In monuments report, a skewed view of protections

Thursday, 21 Sep, 2017

He also wondered why Zinke's memo referred to protecting hunting and fishing rights, saying those activities are already allowed in national monuments. The monument was also expected to help cut down on the amount of fishing nets, buoys and other marine debris that can threaten endangered Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles and other animals.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking at least four national monuments, according to a memorandum obtained by The Washington Post. The Washington Post published a leaked copy online Sunday night. "We're making sure the proclamation doesn't impede using the land in a way that's reasonable and with common sense", Zinke said in a press conference after the tour and meeting.

In June, Rep. Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, had asked the Trump administration to shrink the boundaries of the San Gabriel Mountains monument.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Monday, Sep 17, that the publication had reviewed the report Zinke sent President Trump in August.

The monuments recommended for downsizing include red rock canyons in Utah, forest and grassland in OR, and stunning rock formations in Nevada.

Despite a wave of leaks and guesses, and allegations and denials, the USA government has not announced the next step in the Bears Ears National Monument. National monument status is meant to protect and preserve special places that have value for all Americans.

National monuments are federal areas - usually owned by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service or National Park Service - where presidents use their executive authority to provide protections, including bans on oil and gas drilling, mining, grazing and off-road vehicle use. Some of them are eventually turned into national parks by Congress.

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A memo from Zinke to the president justifying his recommendation that the boundary of the monument, which lies mostly in OR and crosses over into California, be "revised" says motor vehicles aren't allowed in it. The memorandum does not provide figures suggesting how much acreage in the four monuments should be eliminated.

Trump has previously expressed concern with more recent national monument designations, and called the designation of some monuments an overreach of the Antiquities Act.

In April, Trump ordered a review of 27 monuments that past presidents established by using their executive authority under the Antiquities Act.

A draft report from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommends modifications to almost a dozen national monuments, including shrinking the huge Bears Ears monument in Utah and permitting commercial fishing in protected waters in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Jon Mitchell, the mayor of New Bedford, Massachusetts, a large fishing port, said the marine monument designation process "may have been well intended, but it has simply lacked a comparable level of industry input, scientific rigor and deliberation". Gold Butte National Monument, Nevada 5.

And Cascade-Siskiyou, an 86,000-acre monument in OR that was established by Clinton and doubled in size by Obama in January.

By sealing off more than 3 million acres in solidly Republican Utah, Obama and Clinton hurt local economies in rural areas that depend on logging and ranching, said Matt Anderson of the conservative Sutherland Institute. (Recreational fishing is still allowed in all marine monuments.) Despite the fact that the vast majority of US waters are, and will remain, open to commercial fishing, Secretary Zinke wants to open fragile ecosystems like the coral reefs at Rose Atoll and Pacific Remote Islands, as well as whale, dolphin, and porpoise habitat at Northeast Canyons and Seamounts to industrial use. Both were first set aside for protection by President George W. Bush and are known for rich coral reefs.