Trump fields re­quests to ax mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tions,

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By David Sharp

Repub­li­can PORT­LAND, MAINE — lead­ers in Maine and Utah are ask­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to step into un­charted ter­ri­tory and re­scind na­tional mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tions made by his pre­de­ces­sor.

The An­tiq­ui­ties Act of 1906 doesn’t give the pres­i­dent power to undo a des­ig­na­tion, and no pres­i­dent has ever taken such a step. But Trump isn’t like other pres­i­dents.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama used his power un­der the act to per­ma­nently pre­serve more land and wa­ter us­ing na­tional mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tions than any other pres­i­dent. The land is gen­er­ally off lim­its to tim­ber har­vest­ing, min­ing and pipe­lines, and com­mer­cial devel­op­ment.

Obama cre­ated the Katahdin Woods and Wa­ters Na­tional Mon­u­ment in Maine last sum­mer on 87,500 acres of do­nated forest­land. The ex­panse in­cludes part of the Penob­scot River and stun­ning views of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest moun­tain.

In Utah, the for­mer pres­i­dent cre­ated Bears Ears Na­tional Mon­u­ment on 1.3 mil­lion acres of land that’s sa­cred to Na­tive Amer­i­cans and is home to tens of thou­sands of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites, in­clud­ing an­cient cliff dwellings. Trump’s staff is re­view­ing those de­ci­sions by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to de­ter­mine eco­nomic im­pacts, whether the law was fol­lowed and whether there was ap­pro­pri­ate con­sul­ta­tion with lo­cal of­fi­cials, the White House told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Maine Repub­li­can Gov. Paul LePage is op­posed to the des­ig­na­tion, and says fed­eral own­er­ship could stymie in­dus­trial devel­op­ment; and Repub­li­can lead­ers in Utah con­tend the mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tion adds an­other layer of un­nec­es­sary fed­eral con­trol in a state where there’s al­ready heavy fed­eral own­er­ship.

The Utah Leg­is­la­ture ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion signed by the gov­er­nor call­ing on Trump to re­scind the mon­u­ment there. In Maine, LePage asked the pres­i­dent last week to in­ter­vene.

Newly sworn-in In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke has said he’ll fight the sale or trans­fer of pub­lic lands. But he also be­lieves states should be able to weigh in. The Na­tional Parks Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion has vowed to sue if Trump, the In­te­rior Depart­ment or Congress tries to re­move the spe­cial des­ig­na­tions.

“Wher­ever the at­tack comes from, we’re ready to fight, and we know the pub­lic is ready to fight if some­one comes af­ter our na­tional parks and mon­u­ments,” Na­tional Parks Con­ver­sa­tion As­so­ci­a­tion spokes­woman Kris­ten Bren­gel said.

In Maine, the prospect of un­do­ing the des­ig­na­tion is fur­ther com­pli­cated by deed stip­u­la­tions re­quir­ing the Na­tional Park Ser­vice to con­trol the land and a $40 mil­lion en­dow­ment to sup­port the mon­u­ment, said Lucas St. Clair, son of Burt’s Bees co-founder Rox­anne Quimby, who ac­quired the land.

Three of the four mem­bers of Maine’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion want the mon­u­ment to stand to avoid re­open­ing a di­vi­sive de­bate in towns sur­round­ing the prop­erty.

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