WSJ Report: Changes to seven National Land Monuments recommended by the Interior Department; Bears Ears on list

Bears Ears National Monument

UPDATE: A report released by the Wall Street Journal late Sunday evening says that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recomending to reduce the boundaries of seven national monuments.

List of monuments recommended for donwsizing or to be made less restrictive are…

  • Utah’s Bears Ears
  • Utah’s Grand Staircase- Escalante
  • Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou
  • Nevada’s Gold Butte
  • Maine’s atahdine
  • New Mexico’s Organ Mountains- Desert Peaks
  • New Mexico’s Rio Grande Del Norte

The WSJ says they were refered to the White House for comment, but they declined.

“The Trump administration does not comment on leaked documents, especially internal drafts which are still under review by the president and relevant agencies,” White House spokesperson Kelly Love said in a statement Sunday.

The Interior Department delivered the report to the White House in late August, but many of the specifics of the story have remained under wraps.

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Previous Report- August 24

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended the no national monuments under review by the Trump administration be eliminated, but he has recommended some boundary adjustments. The plan was submitted to the President on Thursday.

The Washington Post reports that Zinke is recommending reducing the size of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. He’s also pushing for shrinking the Cascade- Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon.

27 national monuments were potentially on the chopping block after President Trump asked for a review of the monument designation being misused over the past hundred years.

Since the Antiquities Act of 1906, National monuments can be designated by the president. Theodore Rosevelt signed the Act to protect historic, archaeological, geological sites without the approval of Congress. National parks can only be designated through an act of Congress.

Trump was concerned oversized monuments may have hindered energy development, logging, and other uses.

National Park News, National Monument news
Dept. of Interior Secretary – Ryan Zinke

The Washington Post reports that environmental groups are condemning the recommended boundary changes to the monuments.

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s review of the national monuments “has been a complete sham” and a pretext for “selling out our public lands and waters” to the oil industry and others.

Ben Schreiber, a senior political strategist at Friends of the Earth, says Zinke’s action is illegal and “he can rest assured that his latest giveaway to corporate polluters will be litigated in the courts.”

Zinke declined to say whether portions of the monuments would be opened up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries for which Trump has advocated.

Organ Mountains Desert Peaks in New Mexico, Trump National Monuments
Organ Mountains Desert Peaks in New Mexico

One of the most controversial monuments under review was the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. While the park will not be eliminated, it could see its boundaries modified.

Bears Ears Ryan Zinke Recommendations
Bears Ears National Monument

While Zinke did not reveal which monuments could be the victim of boundary changes,  an interim report released in June indicated that he might recommend that Bears Ears National Monument be shrunk in size. If President Donald Trump decides to act on those recommendations, judges will ultimately decide the fate of changes.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico, Mojave Trails in California and the Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine some of the other monuments under review.

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