Interior Department plans more changes to national monuments

Saul Bowman
December 9, 2017

Zinke also said the enlarged protected area now encompasses 52,485 acres of private land; he wants Trump to revise the Cascade-Siskiyous protected area to "address impacts on private lands".

"If he were interested in the will of Nevadans, Zinke would know that Gold Butte's designation was the product of grassroots advocacy, good-faith negotiations, and the belief that our natural treasures should not be subject to the Trump Administration's blatant disregard", Titus said.

Last December, former President Barack Obama set aside the large swath of land northeast of Las Vegas at the urging of former Sen.

The report follows a monthslong review of 27 national monument designations initiated by Zinke and President Donald Trump.

An August memo from Zinke to Trump recommended that the two Utah monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, be reduced, along with Gold Butte and Cascade-Siskiyou.

Republican Rep. John Curtis said at a press conference Tuesday that his measure on Bears Ears National Monument would allow Native Americans and local residents manage the land.

The monument designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996 was almost 3,000 square miles (7,770 square kilometers).

DAVID MCNEW  Stringer  Getty Images
DAVID MCNEW Stringer Getty Images

Zinke's recommendations, however, also included beginning a process to consider three new national monuments: The Badger II Medicine Area in his home state, Montana; the Camp Nelson Civil War site in Kentucky; and the Medgar Evers Home in Jackson, Mississippi, where the civil rights activist lived at the time of his assassination in 1963.

Bishop and members of the Utah congressional delegation have introduced legislation that would create a new national park out of a portion of Grand Staircase-Escalante, to be called Escalante Canyons National Park.

He's also said he's recommending making it "explicit" and not "implied" that hunting and fishing are allowed. But Trump has said former presidents abused the act by putting unnecessarily big chunks of territory off-limits to drilling, mining, grazing, road traffic and other activities. Environmental groups have already filed a lawsuit challenging the monument reductions in Utah.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch says only Congress has the ability to downsize a monument.

Hundreds of protesters surrounded the President's visit to Salt Lake Monday, with conservation groups and tribes immediately threatening legal action.

"In June, I shared my concerns with Secretary Zinke and the administration that no modifications should be made to the Hanford Reach National Monument", said Rep. Newhouse.

In Oregon, timber, ranching and off-road vehicle advocates have been encouraged by the current administration's criticism of national monuments.


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