After public outcry, the Interior Department won't eliminate any national monuments

After public outcry, the Interior Department won't eliminate any national monuments

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will not recommend eliminating any national monuments following a review ordered by President Donald Trump, but changes to boundaries that could open up federal lands to energy production remain possible.

"Any recommendation from Secretary Zinke to shrink national monuments is hypocritical at best and ruinous at worst", said Michael Brune, director of the Sierra Club.

"Reporters! Hi, I'm Heather Swift with Interior".

"The recommendation to alter certain national monuments, including reducing Bears Ears in Utah, is the direct result of Secretary Zinke favoring the voices of oil and gas executives instead of the people who submitted almost 3 million public comments opposing changes to these important places", Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Mary Sweeters said. Trump suggested, though, that past presidents, particularly recent ones, had been abusing the Antiquities Act.

For the study, Zinke said he visited eight national monument sites in six states, including Bears Ears in Utah; Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah; Katahdin Woods and Waters in ME; and Gold Butte in Nevada.

His recommendation for the 87,500-acre (35,410-hectare) Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument came a year to the day that then-President Barack Obama formally announced the land designation.

He anxious that the submerged canyons and mountains off Cape Cod - part of the Atlantic's first marine monument - would be radically altered if the administration allows the resumption of commercial fishing there, or substantially changes its boundaries.

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Sings are held in protest of Secretary Zinke's shortened visit to Nevada, during a press conference at the Battle Born Progress office in Las Vegas, Monday, July 25, 2017. It's only right that Secretary Zinke now tells the American people what he is thinking about doing to some of our most cherished protected lands, instead of keeping his recommendations shrouded in secrecy. "This narrative is false and has no basis in fact", it continued. Trump had referred to those designations as a "massive federal land grab".

During a three-month public input period from May to July, the Department of the Interior received millions of comments from individuals and groups. However, changes could be made to the scope or management of monuments, Zinke said.

In the interview, Zinke struck back against conservationists who had warned of impending mass sell-offs of public lands by the Trump administration.

Legal experts, however, point out that the president has no actual authority to rescind or downsize any national monuments.

Any changes are certain to be challenged in the courts, said Matt Lee-Ashely of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, who noted that any politician who moves to change boundaries is likely to find "a political firestorm on your hands" from nearby communities. The 1906 law gives presidents the authority "to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest" on lands already owned or controlled by the federal government.

Republicans became especially agitated about the issue during the Obama presidency. Rossman emphasized that more than 90 percent of the public comments were opposed to altering any public land protections. "I find that the Bears Ears National Monument does not fully conform with the policies set forth" in Trump's executive order.

"Whether it's bighorn sheep hunters in Arizona, business owners in Utah, or tribal leaders in the Navajo Nation", Hartinger says, "this is something that cuts across partisan and political lines and has a very real impact on people". "These are the places where we work, where we play and where we connect to our shared history - and today, some of these places are in jeopardy", said outdoor-sports retailer REI in a statement urging customers to write Zinke.