Interior Dept report recommends cuts or changes to seven national land monuments

The Wall Street Journal reports: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended cutbacks or other changes to nearly half the geographic national monuments he recently reviewed at the request of President Donald Trump, according to a report sent to the White House and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The report recommends reducing the boundaries of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante preserves in Utah, and reopening hundreds of thousands of square miles of protected oceans in both the Pacific and Atlantic to commercial fishing—in actions numerous environmental groups would likely fight to block.

Those are the findings in a report the secretary sent to Mr. Trump in August. The details of the report weren’t released at the time.

Officials at the Interior Department referred requests for comment to the White House, which declined to comment.

“The Trump administration does not comment on leaked documents, especially internal drafts which are still under review by the president and relevant agencies,” White House spokeswoman Kelly Love said in a statement Sunday.

Besides Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, the list of land monuments recommended for downsizing or otherwise made less restrictive—including by allowing traditional activities including ranching and logging—are Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou; Nevada’s Gold Butte; Maine’s Katahdin; and New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte. The ocean preserves Mr. Zinke wants reopened to commercial fishing include Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the Massachusetts coast and both Rose Atoll and the Pacific Remote Islands.

Mr. Zinke recommended no changes to 17 other national monuments that the president included in the review, which he ordered after complaining some of his predecessors had locked up too much land and water in the preserves that can be created by presidents or Congress under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Most of the monuments that Mr. Zinke reviewed were created by two of Mr. Trump’s Democratic predecessors, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. [Continue reading…]

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