"Zinke and Trump are displaying their disdain for these magnificent public lands and the millions of people who demanded they remain protected".
An environmental group is warning that any effort to allow commercial logging on the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument would "almost certainly" trigger a lawsuit.
Senator Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate energy committee, tweeted that former President Teddy Roosevelt, a conservationist, would "roll over in his grave" if he saw Zinke's "attacks" on public lands. "Secretary Zinke has just sold out public lands and all the people who rely on them".
Zinke's report was produced after Trump gave an executive order to review national monuments created since 1996 that are more than 100,000 acres. I urged him to ensure protection for our Maine way of life with snowmobiling, hunting, outdoor recreation and logging, supporting many important Maine jobs in these industries.
Zinke did not offer changes to two local monuments: The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, a 346,177-acre swath of the Angeles National Forest from Santa Clarita to Mt. Baldy, and the Mojave Trails National Monument, a 1.6 million-acre desert landscape that bridges the area between Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve. There has not been any official statement released by the White House or Zinke's office about the contents of the report.
Zinke submitted his report to Trump by the August 24 deadline, but it has not been publicly released.
"It appears that certain monuments were designated to prevent economic activity such as grazing, mining and timber production rather than to protect specific objects", Zinke found.
The main takeaway from them is that Zinke believes President Trump's most recent predecessors, including Republican President George W. Bush, designated too much land in these national monuments by using the Antiquities Act, while limited their use. (Recreational fishing is still allowed in all marine monuments.) Despite the fact that the vast majority of USA waters are, and will remain, open to commercial fishing, Secretary Zinke wants to open fragile ecosystems like the coral reefs at Rose Atoll and Pacific Remote Islands, as well as whale, dolphin, and porpoise habitat at Northeast Canyons and Seamounts to industrial use. They are Pacific Remote Islands, a vast area southeast of Hawaii that includes Wake Island and Johnston Atoll, and Rose Atoll, west of American Samoa.
Zinke's memo to Trump noted the Mesquite water district's "historic water rights" and that five of its six springs are now in the 464-square-mile monument created last December by President Barack Obama.
Designated in 2016, Gold Butte National Monument protects almost 300,000 acres of rugged desert landscape in southeastern Nevada.
Nevada Democratic U.S. Rep. Dina Titus said Monday that Mesquite water sources are protected by the Gold Butte monument boundaries. The monuments in question were established in previous administrations under the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law authorizing presidents to set aside federal lands for protection.
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"Because the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was essentially ratified by Congress when it approved a massive land exchange with the state of Utah, any presidential action to alter the boundaries of this monument raises additional legal issues about the President's authority to override congressional action", says Robert Keiter, director of the Wallace Stegner Centre for Land, Resources and the Environment at the University of Utah law school.
Dave Sanchez of the Northern New Mexico Stockmen's Association said not reducing the size of the monuments amount to an endorsement of the actions taken by the Obama administration. In the months that followed, there was an outpouring of support for the current size of the monument.