United States national monuments under threat after Trump review

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The Zinke plan, if adopted, will have limited effect in California.

But the impact on the West overall would be dramatic.

A draft memo first reported in the Washington Post offers no new details on exactly how much smaller Zinke thinks the Bears Ears National Monument should be, or the Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Cascade-Siskiyou, in southwestern OR, protects about 113,000 acres in an area where three mountain ranges converge, while Nevada's Gold Butte protects almost 300,000 acres of desert landscapes that feature rock art, sandstone towers and wildlife habitat for bighorn sheep and the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise. That's what most Utahns want to know.

"The Hawaii tuna fleet does not need to fish within the Pacific Remote Islands", he says.

Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift referred questions about the memo to the White House.

The memo then calls on the president to change the proclamations establishing the two monuments in New Mexico and the management plans for those sites "to protect objects and prioritize public access; infrastructure upgrades, fix and maintenance; traditional use; tribal cultural use and hunting and fishing rights".

In addition to hosting an exceptional range of flora and fauna, the monument area is an important Pacific Northwest biological connectivity corridor enabling species to move back and forth between the Siskiyou Mountains, globally recognized for their botanical diversity, and the southern Cascade Range.

But that is a matter of intense debate. But in recent years, rural Republicans have argued that the law has been abused, and rather than protect archaeological sites, has been a potent tool to block logging, mining, oil drilling and cattle grazing on some public lands, and commercial fishing in some ocean areas.

United States national monuments under threat after Trump review
United States national monuments under threat after Trump review

Instead, Zinke did write that "border security is a concern" resulting from the monument's proximity to the U.S. -Mexico border, the Washington Post reports.

"Zinke and Trump are displaying their disdain for these magnificent public lands and the millions of people who demanded they remain protected". He proposed amending the proclamations for 10 monuments, largely to allow for commercial activities restricted in these areas, such as logging, grazing and mining. Utah's congressional delegation strongly supports either rescinding or modifying the Bears Ears National monument designation.

Established Jan. 6, 2009, and enlarged September 25, 2014: The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument includes Wake, Baker, Howland and Jarvis islands; Johnston and Palmyra atolls; and Kingman Reef, which lie to the south and west of Hawaii.

Established March 25, 2013: The rugged, wide-open plains of the 242,500-acre Rio Grande del Norte National Monument average an elevation of 7,000 feet.

While the bulk of Zinke's report focused on shrinking monuments, he did also suggest the possibility of three new ones focused on African-American and Native-American history.

On Grand Staircase-Escalante, the document notes that each monument designation under Zinke's review had "some form of public outreach", with the exception of the 1996 designation by then-President Bill Clinton. The Trump administration is now reviewing the recommendations and has not reached a final decision on them. The administration's refusal to reveal what monuments were targeted drew yet more ire from opponents, who charged the process lacked transparency.

Zinke will not ask the president to eliminate any of the 27 protected areas that were under review since an April executive order. Former President Barack Obama designated the monument in December 2016 just weeks from the end of his second term.

The legal battle over the Grand Canyon involved 818,560 acres-an vast size in 1907, but considerably smaller than the 1.35 million acres set aside for Bears Ears and the 1.8 million acres that became the Grand Staircase Escalante.