Interior Chief Wants to Shrink 6 National Monuments

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah would be reduced under plan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 18, 2017 8:55 AM CDT
Interior Chief Wants to Shrink 6 National Monuments
In this May 9 photo, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rides a horse in the Bears Ears National Monument near Blanding, Utah.   (Scott G Winterton)

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that six of 27 national monuments under review by the Trump administration be reduced in size, with changes to several others proposed, per the AP. A leaked memo from Zinke to President Trump recommends that two Utah monuments—Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante—be reduced, along with Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou. Two marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean also would be reduced under Zinke's memo, which has not been officially released. (Details have previously leaked.) Trump ordered the review earlier this year after complaining about improper "land grabs" by former presidents, including Barack Obama.

The monuments under review were designated by four presidents over the last two decades. Several are about the size of the state of Delaware, including Mojave Trails in California, Grand-Staircase Escalante in Utah, and Bears Ears, which is on sacred tribal land. Among other things, Zinke recommends opening hundreds of thousands of square miles of currently protected zones in the Atlantic and Pacific to commercial fishing, reports the Wall Street Journal, which also obtained a copy of the memo. The changes also could open up areas around monuments on land to coal and oil exploration. For instance, the memo says the Grand Staircase-Escalante currently has "an estimated several billion tons of oil and large oil deposits." The Journal expects environmental groups to fight any changes. (Read more Ryan Zinke stories.)

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