Published: Mon, September 18, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Leaked Memo: Secretary of the Interior to Recommend Shrinking 4 National Monuments

Leaked Memo: Secretary of the Interior to Recommend Shrinking 4 National Monuments

A memorandum submitted by Zinke in August targeted four protected areas for having their land areas reduced, including Bears Ears in Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Gold Butte in Nevada and Cascade-Siskiyou in OR, according to The Washington Post.

A Los Angeles Times graphic shows the Trump administration's plans for national monuments as of September 2017. The White House has not yet responded to verify the memo or deny its message. California national monuments - like the Giant Sequoia National Monument - are spared.

President Trump claims his predecessor used a 100-year-old law to do a "land grab" and says he wants to shrink the size of some national monuments to give land back to states. Several are about the size of the state of DE, including Mojave Trails in California, Grand-Staircase Escalante in Utah and Bears Ears, which is on sacred tribal land.

The Trump administration's plan for shrinking and diminishing protections at America's national monuments appears far more expansive than previously reported, targeting 10 of the nation's most ecologically sensitive landscapes and marine preserves for diminished protection.

The Organ Mountains monument, which totals almost a half-million acres and is not fully contiguous, was widely considered more likely to face changes than the Rio Grande Del Norte monument, although some northern New Mexico ranchers have said federal restrictions on public land use in the north hurts their way of life.

The Interior Department referred the Albuquerque Journal's questions about the matter to the White House late Sunday night.

At least two dozen other monuments could also be affected.

If Trump adopts the recommendations, it would quiet some of the worst fears of his opponents, who warned that vast public lands and marine areas could be lost to states or private interests.

Trump signed an executive order in April directing the Department of the Interior to review two decades' worth of national monument designations in an effort to decide whether to rescind, modify, or maintain their designations.

He also recommended changes to Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine.

"This callous proposal will needlessly punish local, predominantly rural communities that depend on parks and public lands for outdoor recreation, sustainable jobs and economic growth", Mr Williams said in a statement. "If President Trump acts in support of these recommendations, The Wilderness Society will move swiftly to challenge those actions in court".

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