News Report Reveals Administration’s Attempt to Dismantle 10 Places Protected by Past Republican and Democratic Presidents
BACKGROUND: The Washington Post reported today that Interior Secretary Zinke is recommending that President Trump gut 10 national monuments. The monuments, originally designated by Republican and Democratic presidents, were created to protect sacred sites, rivers, forests, deserts and oceans, from Maine to Utah to the American Samoa.
More specifically, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that President Trump eliminate protections for large areas of land and water, opening them up to oil and gas exploration, mining, timber harvesting and commercial fishing. For 10 national monuments, he recommends the president amend the proclamations (i.e. presidential order) to make changes, including reducing boundaries and lifting protections to allow extractive and other damaging uses at these special places.
Zinke’s recommendations include:
- Bears Ears National Monument: boundary revision
- Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument: boundary revision to allow timber harvesting
- Gold Butte National Monument: boundary revision
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: boundary revision
- Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument: timber harvesting
- Northeast Canyons and Seamounts: commercial fishing
- Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument: revise proclamation
- Pacific Remote Islands National Monument: boundary revision to allow commercial fishing
- Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument: revise proclamation
- Rose Atoll National Monument: boundary revision to allow commercial fishing
Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association
“Our worst fears are confirmed with news of this report. Gutting protections and changing boundaries for national monuments would be a sad chapter in our country’s history. Places like Bears Ears would be vulnerable to mining, oil and gas and other destructive development. Suggesting timber harvesting in Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine is in complete opposition to the values for which the park was originally designated. Grand Staircase could be carved up to allow coal mining and road building.
“These are places that speak to our values, and have been enjoyed by all Americans. They protect incredible canyons, rivers, forests, oceans and even ancient artifacts that were being looted. If this administration goes through with these plans and allows mining, oil and gas development and timber harvesting, they will be sacrificing our culture, our history and our outdoor heritage for potential short-term gains. Generations to come will judge them for this shortsightedness.
“Secretary Zinke has forgotten one very important thing in all of this: the American people. These places belong to all of us and today the administration, through an unnecessary and arbitrary review process, has dismissed more than 2.8 million American voices who asked that these incredible places remain protected.
“The president does not have the legal authority to change national monument designations, and we’re prepared to take legal action to defend them.”
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: These recommendations follow an Executive Order, issued by President Trump on April 26, ordering the Department of Interior to review national monuments designated by the Antiquities Act. The Department of Interior’s hit list included 27 national monuments designated under the act, including a national park site, Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine and several others that connect national park lands and waters like Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine Monument Atlantic Ocean.
More than 2.8 million comments were submitted to Interior during the 60-day public comment period, with overwhelming support for keeping national monuments protected as they stand.
Since 1906, 16 U.S. Presidents, representing both political parties, have designated more than 150 national monuments using the Antiquities Act. From Acadia to Zion, to the Statue of Liberty, many of our most iconic national parks were first protected using the Antiquities Act.
About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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