Monday, September 18, 2017

Memo reveals Interior's recommended changes to monuments, three new ones for people of color

Petroglyphs at Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada. (AP photo by Christian Lee)
A copy has been leaked of the memorandum that Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent to President Trump last month, in which he recommended that the size of some national monuments be reduced in order to again open up those lands for commercial use. The memo revealed that Zinke recommended modifying 10 monuments, which includes shrinking the boundaries of at least four Western sites. Zinke also recommended that local officials and affected industries be able to weigh in on the way the targeted monuments are managed, and said that "the administration should permit 'traditional uses' now restricted within the monuments’ boundaries, such as grazing, logging, coal mining and commercial fishing," Juliet Eilperin reports for The Washington Post.

The memo "does not specify exact reductions for the four protected areas Zinke would have Trump narrow — Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, Nevada’s Gold Butte, and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou — or the two marine national monuments — the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll — for which he raised the same prospect," Eilperin reports. "The two Utah sites encompass a total of more than 3.2 million acres, part of the reason they have aroused such intense emotions since their designation."

Zinke also suggested establishing three new national monuments to recognize either African American or Native American history: Camp Nelson south of Nicholasville, Ky., where African Americans joined the Union Army and began Kentucky's change of heart in favor of the Confederacy; the Jackson, Miss., home of Medgar Evers, where he was murdered; "and the 130,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine area in Zinke’s home state of Montana, which is consider sacred by the Blackfeet Nation," Eilperin reports.

The issue may create legal precedent for a president's ability to act under the Antiquities Act, since conservation groups such as the Wilderness Society have vowed to fight Zinke's recommendations in court if they become a reality. "No other president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have trimmed and redrawn boundaries 18 times, according to the National Park Service," Matthew Daly reports for The Associated Press. President Trump ordered Zinke's review after complaining that former presidents had misused the authority granted by the Antiquities Act to create too-large monuments that hamper important commercial activities.

No comments: