Published: Thu, September 21, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Interior Chief Urges Shrinking Four National Monuments In West

Interior Chief Urges Shrinking Four National Monuments In West

'The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and waters and it's time we ended this abusive practice, ' Trump said at the time, calling the practice a 'massive federal land grab'.

The memo was short on specifics.

Zinke recommended TEN land and sea monuments be stripped of critical protections.

The document mentions allowing more "hunting and fishing rights", and earlier in the memo Zinke notes that grazing is rarely allowed on the national monuments.

The potential reduction has conservation groups as well as politicians threatening litigation.

Utah maps submitted by state officials to the Interior Department for Zinke's review suggested that Bears Ears be reduced by 90 percent, to just 120,000 acres, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported.

Missoula, Mont. -based Backcountry Hunters and Anglers' president Land Tawney said in a statement he was concerned about reports of Zinke's leaked report. That error is emblematic of the report, which discounts years of scientific and public support, Willis says. That includes the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument - the first marine monument established in the Atlantic.

Despite the rhetoric of the report, there's legal and historical support for a broad definition of what constitutes an object in need of protection.

Monument supporters, however, point out that public hearings were held a year ago when the expansion was under consideration and that the fishermen operate on a quota-based system, meaning they are free to make up that lost catch elsewhere in the Pacific as they have done in the past.

"Without these areas, we will lose protection for the snowpack that Jenny Creek badly needs to maintain cold water supplies for the redband trout and other native fishes in the creek", Williams wrote in an email.

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"I would issue caution to anyone that says we are off the hook", Rossman said.

"Can an administration come in and change the meaning of a statute through the Antiquities Act?". Designating a monument apart from that process could "jeopardize already strained relationships with important stakeholders, including commercial and recreational fishermen", Baker said.

The mayors, city councils, and chamber of commerce boards of the two closest towns to the monument, Ashland and Talent, unanimously endorsed the monument expansion's recreation and quality-of-life benefits as strengthening the region's diversifying economy.

Oregon Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, said she and other state lawmakers are committed to fighting the proposals in the memo. He said that while every monument is unique, public lands are not for sale.

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"Oregonians have a proud tradition of environmental stewardship, and any scale-back of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument could have devastating impacts on health of the old-growth forest lands and incredible array of species that rely on the land's habitats", Brown said.

The Trump administration has promoted "energy dominance", or plans to produce more coal, oil, and gas for domestic use and selling to allies. Allowing regulated commercial fishing in the area is a conservation-minded move, said Robert Vanasse the executive director of Saving Seafood, a fishing advocacy group.

Oregon's sprawling national monument covers 112,000 acres along the California border.

In June, Zinke told reporters he had recommended shrinking the Bears Ears monument, the country's newest monument, and last month he sent his recommendations to the Republican president after reviewing more than two dozen national monuments.

Opponents of the monument designation say the area is too big.

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