Despite receiving 2.8 million comments from the public in support of our national monuments, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has advised President Trump to change the way at least 10 of these treasured areas are managed and to shrink the boundaries of at least four of them.
Other national monuments Zinke is recommending be reduced, according to the memo, are Nevada's Gold Butte, Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou and two marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean, a The Washington Post article says.
One of the people who was behind the creation of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's recommendation to President Donald Trump recommending downsizing it has several errors.
According to a leaked copy of Zinke's report to President Trump, none of the six California national monuments on the original review list are up for revision.
A four-month review was ordered by Mr Trump earlier this year after he complained the monuments were "land grabs" by former presidents, including Barack Obama. Harry Reid, tried for years to have it designated as a national conservation area before Obama made it a monument in December. Overlooked by Sec. Zinke is the fact that the monument designation does not disadvantage private lands in any way, and the BLM determined that much of the monument is not suitable for commercial timber harvest.
The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was designated to protect biodiversity - the first national monument set aside with that sole goal. "This memo is not a coherent basis for serious public land use decisionmaking". Only a small fraction, she said, mentioned anything about timber-cutting.
The report, sent to the White House by the Department of the Interior in August, recommends scaling back the two national monuments as well as reopening hundreds of thousands of miles of protected oceans to commercial fishing.
California environmentalists and numerous state's political leaders were alarmed when Berryess Snow Mountain along with five other national monuments located in California were first published as part of the list that Zinke was reviewing.
National monuments are federal areas - usually owned by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service or National Park Service - where presidents use their executive authority to provide protections, including bans on oil and gas drilling, mining, grazing and off-road vehicle use. But if President Trump follows through on them, he will face intense legal pushback from environmentalists, who will test to what extent the Antiquities Act can be used to reduce the footprint of national monuments, rather than expand it. He said many also failed to adequately account for local opinion.
"The secretary canceled a meeting that he had with us and our supporters and refused to reschedule it", she said.
Environmentalists say reducing restriction, and the size of protected areas, would harm the ecosystems the monuments are meant to protect.
In his memo, Zinke acknowledges that tourism related to the monument status fosters jobs and local businesses. (Christian K. Lee / Associated Press)Katahdin Woods and WatersFog rises from the Penobscot River's East Branch in the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument near Patten, Maine. A spokeswoman for the fisheries council says it is working on rules that would freeze the footprint where commercial fishing is now allowed in Atlantic slopes and canyons, including in some parts of the monument, but would not bar it altogether.
We also remain concerned about the announcement in the report that "DOI plans to undertake a review of existing monument management plans" to ensure that they are not impeding certain uses of monument lands. The area also includes land sacred to Native American tribes.