Ryan Zinke: National Monuments Should Shrink

National monument designations have protected some of the most spectacular public landscapes in the country from fossil fuel extraction, mining and logging.

The memo was short on specifics. President Theodore Roosevelt used the act to declare Devils Tower in Wyoming as the first national monument. Conservation groups are preparing to go into legal battle over potential changes. Cascade-Siskiyou is mostly in southern OR, on national forest and BLM land near Ashland, but about 5,000 acres extends into Siskiyou County, California. The monument is just under 114,000 acres. "So it really depends on where they put the emphasis".

Willis, who has worked to preserve the sensitive area since 1983, called the report "sloppy and error-filled". Gold Butte is almost 300-thousand acres large, and people who live in Bunkerville, near the boundaries of Gold Butte, say the protections prevent locals from using the land like they have for decades. "It would be outrageous", Willis said. A designation as a national monument prohibits mining and sets stringent protections for ecosystems on the site.

Except for red crab and American lobster fisheries, commercial fishing is now prohibited in the 3,972 square miles of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off Cape Cod.

Conservationists and sportsmen, reading between the lines, worry the memo could lead to the Trump administration stripping protections from monuments and leaving the sites open to development without actually changing the boundaries. "However, the current footprint is a good example of the abuse of the Antiquities Act by a number of different Administrations that have designated over-expansive monuments".

The changes could have serious economic implications for areas around the monuments. (Christian K. Lee / Associated Press)Katahdin Woods and WatersFog rises from the Penobscot River's East Branch in the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument near Patten, Maine. "Generations to come will judge them for this shortsightedness".

None of these recommendations have been finalized, and the leaked memorandum written by Zinke said at several points, "Draft Deliberative - Not for Distribution".

The mayors, city councils, and chamber of commerce boards of the two closest towns to the monument, Ashland and Talent, unanimously endorsed the monument expansion's recreation and quality-of-life benefits as strengthening the region's diversifying economy. Rather, it reads like a mishmash of facts copied from Wikipedia and talking points straight from Zinke's deep-pocketed industry backers, including coal, oil, timber, and commercial fishing interests.

"The way that our country utilizes its cattle and beef industry has radically changed in the past 21 years", she said.

Eric Reid, general manager of Seafreeze Shoreside in Narragansett, Rhode Island, said in a statement that the recommendations "make us hopeful that we can recover the areas we have fished sustainably for decades".

Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society, said the recommendations apparently made by Mr Zinke "represent an unprecedented assault on our parks and public lands" by the Trump administration. After Obama created the Atlantic monument, five commercial fishing groups sued in federal court.

Eric Molvar, executive director with Western Watersheds Project, said the memo also threatens to expand natural resource extraction in National Monuments, including southern Oregon.

Zinke's recommendations to President Trump to illegally shrink and allow extractive industry in several national monuments, including OR and California's Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

  • Leroy Wright