Press Release Dec 5, 2017

Attacks on Our National Monuments Continue; Zinke Report Recommends Gutting More Protections

Monuments report shows administration’s plans to dismantle 10 places protected by past Republican and Democratic presidents.

BACKGROUND: Today, after an arbitrary review process and after months of withholding information from the public about the administration’s plans for our national monuments, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released his report with recommendations to gut protections for 10 national monuments. This follows yesterday’s announcement by President Trump to erase protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah. These monuments were originally designated by Republican and Democratic presidents and were created to protect sacred tribal sites, rivers, forests, deserts and oceans – from Maine to Utah to American Samoa.

Zinke recommendations include reducing boundaries at four national monuments and removing protections in order to allow for destructive mining, timber harvesting and off-road vehicle use.

Zinke’s recommendations include:

  1. Bears Ears National Monument: revoke national monument and calling to replace with two smaller monuments, cutting protected lands by 85 percent.
  2. Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument: boundary revision to allow timber harvesting
  3. Gold Butte National Monument: boundary revision
  4. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: revoke national monument and calling to replace with three smaller monuments, cutting protected lands by nearly half.
  5. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument: timber harvesting
  6. Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument: commercial fishing
  7. Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument: revise proclamation
  8. Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument: boundary revision to allow commercial fishing
  9. Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument: revise proclamation
  10. Rose Atoll Marine National Monument: boundary revision to allow commercial fishing

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association

“Secretary Zinke’s report recommends reversing protections guaranteed under one of our most important conservation laws – the Antiquities Act. Mining, oil and gas, timber harvesting, and other destructive development has no place in our national parks and monuments. Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine deserves the same protection as every other national park site—Zinke’s proposal would diminish that.

“If the White House goes through with Zinke’s plan, it will be yet another major attack on our beloved national parks and monuments, history-rich lands and underwater treasures. Zinke’s recommendations would minimize protections for rivers, forests, cultural sites and important values Americans hold dear. Sacrificing our culture, our history and our outdoor heritage is not worth destructive and potentially short-term gains.

“Secretary Zinke continues to ignore the more than 2.8 million American people who asked that these incredible places remain protected, by reducing protections for public lands that belong to all of us. He has called for the nation to be vigilant in the defense of the American conservation ethic. Yet, his actions of planning behind closed doors and catering to industry versus community fly in the face of his call to the nation.

“Secretary Zinke and President Trump do not have the legal authority to change national monument designations, and we’re prepared to take legal action to defend these places.”

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 in the 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.

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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.