Trump Administration Could Allow Commercial Fishing In Marine National Monument

Kristen Gonzales
September 19, 2017

While the antiquities law enables a president to permanently declare certain places of historic or scientific interest a national monument, a few US presidents have reduced the size of some such areas. The leaked report, published Sunday by the Washington Post, does not provide an exact size to which Zinke believed the Bears Ears national monument should be reduced from its current size.

In April, the president ordered Zinke to review 27 monuments-all larger than 100,000 acres-that have been granted federal protections under the Antiquities Act since 1996, claiming that his predecessors went too far when designating certain USA lands and waters as protected from commercial activity.

A memorandum submitted by Zinke in August targeted four protected areas for having their land areas reduced, including Bears Ears in Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Gold Butte in Nevada and Cascade-Siskiyou in OR, according to The Washington Post. That memo was obtained by news organizations that included the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and the Washington Post.

Most of those that are under review, after Trump complained too much land was locked up in the protected spaces, were created by his Democratic predecessors Barack Obama or Bill Clinton.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a 1st District Democrat who strongly supports the monument designation, criticized the Trump administration for a lack of transparency in the review process.

In June, Zinke told reporters he had recommended shrinking the Bears Ears monument, the country's newest monument, and last month he sent his recommendations to the Republican president after reviewing more than two dozen national monuments. Grand Staircase-Escalante, in southern Utah, includes almost 1.9 million acres in a sweeping vista larger than the state of Delaware.

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In a statement, the White House has said it does not comment on leaked documents, "especially internal drafts which are still under review by the president and relevant agencies".

During the 120-day review, Zinke visited eight of the 27 national monuments under review, traveling to six states.

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. Williams also promised to battle "these illegal and risky recommendations" in court, if Trump acts on them. The Interior secretary's report suggested specific reductions in size to four national monuments, including Bears Ears in Utah.

The other 17 monuments guaranteed under the 1906 Antiquities Act have been recommended to remain unchanged.

"President Trump should throw these recommendations in the trash and end his administration's unprecedented assault on lands and waters that drive our outdoor recreation economy, preserve our cultural heritage, and conserve critical wildlife habitat", Karpinski said. But while he said the recommendation "basically says we should continue to do exactly what we are doing", St. Clair said it all depends on how the Trump administration implements the vague language within the report.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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