Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West

Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West

They've vowed to file lawsuits if Trump attempts any changes that would reduce the size of monuments or rescind their designations. A spokeswoman for the fisheries council says it is working on rules that would freeze the footprint where commercial fishing is now allowed in Atlantic slopes and canyons, including in some parts of the monument, but would not bar it altogether. "He carved the path of putting under federal protection millions of acres and and beginning our experience of our public lands, unique to the USA", he told the Examiner. The other monuments Zinke is proposing to shrink include Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, which together encompass 3.2 million acres. That memo was obtained by news organizations that included the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and the Washington Post.

The monuments under review were designated by four presidents over the last two decades.

Zinke suggests shrinking borders for four land monuments, potentially leaving thousands or even millions of acres of land vulnerable to mining, logging, and types of other development. Grand Staircase-Escalante, in southern Utah, includes almost 1.9 million acres in a sweeping vista larger than the state of Delaware.

Zinke's recommendations were revealed in a leaked memo submitted to the White House.

But significant reductions in the size of the monuments, especially those created by Obama, would mark the latest in a string of actions where Trump has sought to erode his Democratic predecessor's legacy.

By contrast, Zinke's memorandum discussed creating three new national monuments.

In the report, Zinke also recommended changes in uses or management of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in ME; the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, off New England; the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico; and the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument in New Mexico.

Zinke, in his report to the White House, said past presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, had overstepped their authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act when they drew boundaries for new monuments.

The view from Comb Ridge is pictured in Utah's Bears Ears area of the Four Corners Region, Utah, U.S., December 18, 2016.

Although the details of Zinke's report to Trump did not become public until Sunday night, he was widely expected in ME to recommend changes to allow some timber harvesting within Katahdin Woods and Waters.

"This callous proposal will needlessly punish local, predominantly rural communities that depend on parks and public lands for outdoor recreation, sustainable jobs and economic growth", Mr Williams said in a statement. "If President Trump acts in support of these recommendations, The Wilderness Society will move swiftly to challenge those actions in court", Williams said.

The Natural Resources Defense Council believes the Trump administration is using a classic negotiating tactic in its review of national monuments: threatening the worst and spinning the ultimate outcome, however outrageous, as a reasonable result.

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