Health Care

Leaked Zinke Memo Urges Trump to Shrink National Monuments

Leaked Zinke Memo Urges Trump to Shrink National Monuments

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, are included in Zinke's report as the Monuments that will be affected.

Objects that have been protected in recent designations include biodiversity at Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument - the "spectacular variety of rare and attractive species of plants and animals" that live there, according to the proclamation that established the monument in 2000.

President Obama made the land a national monument toward the end of his eight years in office.

Zinke's recommendations to pare down four Western monuments - and allow more logging and other development in three other monuments - "represent an unprecedented assault on our parks and public lands" by the Trump administration, said Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society.

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

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"It appears that certain monuments were designated to prevent economic activity such as grazing, mining and timber production rather than to protect specific objects", the report reads. In all, Zinke calls for amending the proclamations for 10 monuments, largely to allow for commercial activities restricted in these areas, such as logging, grazing, mining and fishing. He said many also failed to adequately account for local opinion.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said the Trump administration was threatening more than a century of environmental protections guaranteed by the Antiquities Act of 1906, and noted that millions of comments were provided in recent months calling for national monuments to be protected.

"Congress already set aside these lands eighty years ago for the specific goal of sustainable timber production in the O&C Act, and the president - regardless of party - doesn't have the authority to rewrite the law", said American Forest Resource Council President Travis Joseph. Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Atlantic Ocean 9.

The Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll - two of the marine national monuments recommended for changes - are in the Pacific Ocean, and Zinke is recommending opening them up to commercial fishing.

"Secretary Zinke has also put forward a recommendation that encourages the White House to rework the land management so that logging and snowmobiling, two industries with historic, cultural and economic ties to the region, can continue to be permitted and support important ME jobs".

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Zinke's memo to Trump noted the Mesquite water district's "historic water rights" and that five of its six springs are now in the 464-square-mile monument created last December by President Barack Obama.

"We hope that the White House will extend these recommendations to the Papahanaumokuakea Monument, where President Obama closed an area almost the size of Alaska without a substantive public process", said Sean Martin, president of the Hawaii Longline Association, in a news release from the nonprofit Saving Seafood.

More than 2.8 million people wrote to Zinke and the Interior Department on this matter, almost all of them urging the administration to preserve protections for these iconic places.

"These factual errors make it look disinformed", Willis said in a phone interview. The memo obtained by The Associated Press was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. "The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water and it's time we ended this abusive practice".

Conservation groups argue that Obama's designation of Gold Butte protected existing water rights.

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Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director for the Natural Resources Council of ME, said in a press release that "without more details, we can not yet judge whether these recommendations are acceptable or consistent with the overwhelming view of the ME people".