National Monuments Threatened

Posted on April 26, 2017 by B Colbath.

Zinke could target any site he deems lacked ‘outreach’

Jennifer Yachnin, E&E News reporter

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017

President Trump today triggered the clock on an Interior Department review of the boundaries of dozens of national monuments — requiring a report within 120 days assessing the status of millions of federally managed acres — but which land will be included in that evaluation has yet to be finalized.

The president signed an executive order today mandating the review of all national monuments larger than 100,000 acres that have been established since 1996 (Greenwire, April 26).

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters at a White House press briefing last night that the review would likely include between 24 and 40 monuments.

According to a list provided by Interior, it encompasses the 24 monuments either managed or partially managed by the department that meet the criteria for automatic review: having both the necessary size and having been created or expanded in the designated time period.

Additional sites will be considered based on input from state and local leaders. The executive order directs the Interior secretary to include any monuments he determines have been created or expanded “without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.”

Such sites could include the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine, which covers about 88,000 acres.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) attended the signing of the executive order at Interior headquarters today. He’s also set to testify about the monument’s designation before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands next week.

“I think it was a horrible, horrible decision and it should be reversed if it can,” LePage told the Portland Press Herald earlier this week, noting the state Legislature voted against it and criticizing the monument for limiting timber harvests (Greenwire, April 25).

More than 50 monuments have been created since 1996, including the larger sites tallied by Interior as well as cultural monuments like the Stonewall National Monument in New York and the Freedom Riders National Monument in Alabama.

Trump’s executive order today is bookended by a pair of sites that have been the focus of criticism by Utah state and federal Republican lawmakers, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument created by President Clinton and the Bears Ears National Monument established by President Obama late last year.

“The view from the Potomac is a lot different than the view from the Yellowstone or the Colorado. Too many times, you have people in D.C. who have never been to an area, never grazed the land, fished the river, driven the trails or looked locals in the eye, who are making the decisions, and they have zero accountability to the impacted communities,” Zinke said today. “I’m interested in listening to those folks. That’s what my team and I will be doing in the next few months.”

Zinke said he would travel to Utah in early May and visit the Bears Ears region, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) praised the president’s directive, asserting that it would correct “long-standing abuses of the Antiquities Act,” the 1906 law that allows the nation’s commander in chief to set aside federal lands of cultural or historical value.

“It was created with noble intent and for limited purposes, but has been hijacked to set aside increasingly large and restricted areas of land without public input,” Bishop said in a statement.

Similarly, Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research and former leader of Trump’s Energy Department transition team, praised the order by arguing it would open more federal land to potential energy leasing.

“President Trump’s executive order shows that his administration remains committed to unleashing America’s energy potential,” Pyle said. “While energy production has surged on state and private lands over the past decade, production on federal lands has lagged far behind. This disparity is largely due to the previous administration’s keep-it-in-the-ground tactics, including President Obama’s abuse of the Antiquities Act.”

Monuments under review

National monument Location Year Acreage
Papahānaumokuākea Marine Pacific Ocean 2006/2016 89,600,000
Marianas Trench Marine Pacific Ocean 2009 60,938,240
Pacific Remote Islands Marine Pacific Ocean 2009 55,608,320
Rose Atoll Marine American Samoa 2009 8,609,045
World War II Valor in the Pacific Hawaii, Alaska, California 2008 4,038,400
Northeast Canyons & Seamounts Marine Atlantic Ocean/Massachusetts 2016 3,144,320
Grand Staircase-Escalante Utah 1996 1,700,000
Mojave Trails California 2016 1,600,000
Bears Ears Utah 2016 1,353,000
Grand Canyon-Parashant Arizona 2000 1,014,000
Basin and Range Nevada 2015 703,585
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks New Mexico 2014 496,330
Sonoran Desert Arizona 2001 486,149
Upper Missouri River Breaks Montana 2001 377,346
Berryessa Snow Mountain California 2015 330,780
Giant Sequoia California 2000 327,769
Gold Butte Nevada 2016 296,937
Vermilion Cliffs Arizona 2000 279,568
Rio Grande del Norte New Mexico 2013 242,555
Carrizo Plain California 2001 204,107
Hanford Reach Washington 2000 194,450.93
Canyons of the Ancients Colorado 2000 175,160
Sand to Snow California 2016 154,000
Ironwood Forest Arizona 2000 128,917

Source: Department of the Interior.

But Democratic lawmakers have vowed to challenge the administration’s review — which requires a report on Bears Ears in 45 days and on all other sites within 120 days — particularly if the final report recommends the rescission or reduction of any monument.

“Any effort by President Trump to undermine the Antiquities Act, shrink or even eliminate some of the most iconic American places will be met with fierce opposition,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who serves on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

He added: “I, for one, won’t stand for this un-American action. I urge the American people to make their voices heard to stand up for our nation’s conservation legacy, our obligation to respect tribal sovereignty and for the places that make us who we are as Americans.”

 

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