Leaked Memo to Trump Says to Reduce Size of Monuments

By Tsai, Michael | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, September 18, 2017 | Go to article overview

Leaked Memo to Trump Says to Reduce Size of Monuments


Tsai, Michael, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that two marine national monuments in the Pacific and four other national monuments be reduced in size, according to a leaked memo.

But the Papahanaumokuakea monument surrounding the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is not one of them, according to The Washington Post.

The memo from Zinke to President Donald Trump, which included changes to several other monuments, was first reported Sunday by the Wall Street Journal and later obtained by The Associated Press.

The Post said the two Pacific monuments affected are the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll, both in the Western Pacific.

As provided by the Antiquities Act of 1906, national monument designations give added protections to lands revered for their natural beauty and historical significance with the goal of preserving them for future generations. Restrictions include limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as riding off-road vehicles.

In April, Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of 27 sites designated by former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The list included all four Pacific monuments.

Conservationists and cultural practitioners had expressed concern that the department could target Papahanaumokuakea for reduction. The monument was established by George W. Bush in 2006 and dramatically expanded to its current 583,000-mile area by Obama in 2016. It is the second-largest protected area on the planet.

The other monuments recommended for reduction include Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, Nevada’s Gold Butte and Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon.

Several are about the size of Delaware, including Mojave Trails in California, Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and Bears Ears, which is on sacred tribal land.

No other president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have trimmed and redrawn boundaries 18 times, according to the National Park Service.

Zinke said last month that unspecified boundary adjustments for some monuments designated over the past four decades will be included in the recommendations submitted to Trump. None of the sites would revert to new ownership, he said, while public access for uses such as hunting, fishing or grazing would be maintained or restored.

He also spoke of protecting tribal interests and historical land grants, pointing to monuments in New Mexico, where Hispanic ranchers have opposed two monuments proclaimed by Obama.

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. …

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