Carrizo Plain National Monument remains under threat

Sep 8, 2017
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Zinke recommended Thursday that all the monuments remain but said some of them could be altered.

“President Trump can avoid another political and legal debacle by releasing Secretary Zinke’s full recommendations, then quickly and publicly putting the report where it belongs: in the trash can”, said Jennifer Rokala of the Center for Western Priorities in a prepared statement.

Interior released statements emphasizing Zinke’s determination to allow public access for hunting and fishing, recreation, and traditional uses, plus a general reference to economic development. President Bill Clinton declared the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996, while President Barack Obama designated the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears previous year.

More concrete details are not available.

“The public deserves to see the complete list of recommendations that were sent to the White House”, she said. President Barack Obama created the monument in the last days of 2016.

Bears Ears was designated on December 28 by then-President Barack Obama, who used the Antiquities Act to declare 553.5 million acres as national monuments during his term, nearly twice as many acres as all presidents combined since the act took effect under President Teddy Roosevelt.

Zinke has not yet provided specifics about which monuments could be changed or exactly how.

A statement from Americans for Prosperity thanked Zinke for giving Trump a “series of recommendations created to give additional flexibility to local communities impacted by overly broad management of federal lands under the Antiquities Act”.

“This proposed rollback of our treasured public lands and waters is as outrageous as it is illegal”, said NRDC president Rhea Suh. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. It obligates federal agencies that manage the public lands to preserve for present and future generations the historic, scientific, commemorative, and cultural values of the archaeological and historic sites and structures on these lands. “If the president decides to modify current monuments, I trust the stakeholders in our public land debates will work with Congress in good faith to pass legislation to clarify controversial public land use regulations”, said Herbert. “That narrative is patently false and shameful”. However, he dismissed fears about the intention to sell off public lands.

Republicans had asked President Donald Trump to take the unusual step of reversing the designation, saying it will add another layer of unnecessary federal control and close the area to new energy development. The restrictions aren’t as stringent as national parks, but some policies include limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as riding off-road vehicles.

Although some former presidents have slightly shrunk the size of certain monuments, including Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, no President in the Act’s 111-year-long history has ever eliminated any.

Senator Dianne Feinstein has pledged that California will fight any attempt to eliminate protected land.

“Bears Ears is an American wonderland of sandstone canyons, desert mesas, and forested highlands sacred to Native American peoples and important to us all”.

The president also dismissed past monument designations as “a massive federal land grab”.

The New York Times reports that during the review, Zinke solicited public comments and visited eight national monuments, meeting with business leaders, locals and Native American tribes along the way”.

A designation as a national monument is permanent, and prohibits mining and sets stringent protections for ecosystems on the site. Among them were Zion National Park in Utah and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. He says now that the national monument has been established, both supporters and critics should give it some time to see if it provides a “tangible benefit”.

McSally asking for preservation of national monuments in Arizona

 

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