Zinke asks Trump to shrink 4 mon­u­ments

The Washington Post - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY JULIET EILPERIN juliet.eilperin@wash­post.com Dino Gran­doni con­trib­uted to this re­port.

In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke on Tues­day called on Pres­i­dent Trump to shrink a to­tal of four na­tional mon­u­ments and change the way six other land and ma­rine sites are man­aged, a sweep­ing over­haul of how pro­tected ar­eas are main­tained in the United States.

Zinke’s fi­nal re­port comes a day af­ter Trump signed procla­ma­tions in Utah that down­sized two mas­sive na­tional mon­u­ments there — Bears Ears by 85 per­cent and Grand Stair­case-Es­calante by nearly 46 per­cent. The pres­i­dent had di­rected Zinke in April to re­view 27 na­tional mon­u­ments es­tab­lished since 1996 un­der the An­tiq­ui­ties Act, which gives the pres­i­dent broad author­ity to safe­guard fed­eral lands and wa­ters un­der threat.

In ad­di­tion to the Utah sites, Zinke sup­ports cut­ting Ne­vada’s Gold Butte and Ore­gon’s Cas­cadeSiskiyou, though the ex­act re­duc­tions are still be­ing de­ter­mined. He also would re­vise the procla­ma­tions for those and the oth­ers to clar­ify that cer­tain ac­tiv­i­ties are al­lowed.

The ad­di­tional mon­u­ments af­fected in­clude North­east Canyons and Seamounts in the At­lantic Ocean; both Rose Atoll and the Pacific Re­mote Is­lands in the Pacific Ocean; New Mex­ico’s Or­gan Moun­tains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte, and Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Wa­ters.

“The An­tiq­ui­ties Act over time has done great things for our coun­try, and it has pro­tected some of our great­est trea­sures,” he said in a call with re­porters. But its power had been “abused,” he said, with mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tions ex­tend­ing far be­yond the ob­jects they were de­signed to pro­tect.

Some of the ob­jects de­fined in past procla­ma­tions, he noted, were too ab­stract: “Stars, bi­o­log­i­cal di­ver­sity, re­mote­ness, empti­ness.”

Zinke crit­i­cized the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s past ac­tion halt­ing mo­tor­ized ve­hi­cle traf­fic in Cas­cade-Siskiyou un­til a trans­porta­tion plan could be fi­nal­ized, say­ing it in­ter­fered with lo­cal crosscoun­try ski op­er­a­tors’ abil­ity to main­tain trails.

For sev­eral sites, Zinke rec­om­mended amend­ing the mon­u­ments’ procla­ma­tion lan­guage to en­sure that ac­tiv­i­ties such as graz­ing, hunt­ing and fishing can con­tinue. While these prac­tices of­ten go on even af­ter a pres­i­den­tial des­ig­na­tion, Zinke said he wants to make that le­gal­ity clear be­cause ranch­ers have felt marginal­ized and fear they will face fu­ture re­stric­tions.

In the case of New Mex­ico’s na­tional mon­u­ments, Zinke said, he lis­tened to the state’s two Demo­cratic se­na­tors and oth­ers in de­cid­ing not to mod­ify their bound­aries. Still, he wanted “to make sure that the procla­ma­tion pro­tects the long-stand­ing graz­ing [in parts] of those mon­u­ments” and that man­age­ment of Or­gan Moun­tains-Desert Peaks does not in­ter­fere with U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion op­er­a­tions in the area.

Sen. Martin Hein­rich (D-N.M.) wasn’t buy­ing the ex­pla­na­tion. He blasted Zinke in a state­ment, say­ing that the “re­port is based on hearsay and er­ro­neous data,” and that the sec­re­tary and Trump “have turned a deaf ear to the over­whelm­ing con­sen­sus to pro­tect New Mex­ico’s con­ser­va­tion legacy.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tion is al­ready fac­ing mul­ti­ple law­suits over the pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion Mon­day to scale back both Bears Ears, a sa­cred tribal site des­ig­nated last year by for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama, and Grand Stair­case- Es­calante, a reser­voir of pre­his­toric fos­sils Bill Clin­ton es­tab­lished in 1996.

In­te­rior re­ceived more than 2.5 mil­lion com­ments on the re­view, and they “over­whelm­ingly” said all of the mon­u­ments should re­main un­changed, Zinke wrote in his re­port. But he at­trib­uted the ex­treme tilt to “a well-or­ches­trated na­tional cam­paign or­ga­nized by mul­ti­ple groups.”

“I don’t yield to public pres­sure,” Zinke said Tues­day. “Sound public pol­icy is not based on threats of law­suit. It’s do­ing what’s right.”

The fi­nal doc­u­ment is al­most iden­ti­cal to the draft Zinke sub­mit­ted to the White House this sum­mer, and much of the lan­guage is vague. For ex­am­ple, it ap­pears to open the door to com­mer­cial fishing in three ma­rine mon­u­ments where this prac­tice is ei­ther be­ing phased out or is al­ready banned. Yet the re­port calls for amend­ing the sites’ procla­ma­tions to al­low re­gional coun­cils “to make fish­ery-man­age­ment de­ci­sions as au­tho­rized by the Mag­nu­son-Stevens Fish­ery Con­ser­va­tion and Man­age­ment Act.”

“That’s some­thing that our mem­bers have ar­gued for from the begin­ning,” said Bob Vanasse, who serves as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the com­mer­cial fishing in­dus­try group Sav­ing Seafood. The act, he added, is broadly viewed as “one of the best laws in the world” in terms of sus­tain­abil­ity.

But Tom Wa­then, a vice pres­i­dent at the Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts, which works on en­vi­ron­men­tal and other is­sues, said in an email that com­mer­cial fishing within the ma­rine mon­u­ments “would un­der­mine the pro­tec­tion pro­vided for these habi­tats and for the threat­ened whales, tur­tles, fish and seabirds that gather there.”

In the re­port, Zinke also fi­nal­ized his rec­om­men­da­tions to cre­ate three new na­tional mon­u­ments: at Ken­tucky’s Camp Nel­son, a Civil War train­ing site for African Amer­i­can sol­diers; at the home of Medgar Evers, a civil rights ac­tivist who was as­sas­si­nated by a white su­prem­a­cist, in Jack­son, Miss., and at the BadgerTwo Medicine area in Zinke’s home state of Mon­tana.

The sec­re­tary said he was “fairly con­fi­dent” Trump would ac­cept all of his rec­om­men­da­tions, and he in­tends to brief him “mul­ti­ple times” in com­ing weeks to get his sign-off.

House Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee Chair­man Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) com­mended Zinke on Tues­day for “ac­tu­ally lis­ten­ing to the peo­ple on the lo­cal level” and Trump for show­ing “some real courage against well-funded lit­i­ga­tion ma­chines.”

Bishop and mem­bers of the Utah con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion have in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would cre­ate a new na­tional park out of a por­tion of Grand Stair­case-Es­calante, to be called Es­calante Canyons Na­tional Park.

“I know other peo­ple say this, but I’m telling you: Dude, there’s noth­ing quite like Utah,” said Rep. Chris Ste­wart (R), the bill’s lead spon­sor. “Utah is an ex­tra­or­di­nary state when it comes to nat­u­ral beauty. We want to share that with as many peo­ple as we can.”

“I don’t yield to public pres­sure. Sound public pol­icy is not based on threats of law­suit. It’s do­ing what’s right.” In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke on his re­port on na­tional mon­u­ments

BEN­JAMIN ZACK/STAN­DARD-EX­AM­INER/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pro­test­ers march from the Utah State Capi­tol through Salt Lake City Mon­day to protest Pres­i­dent Trump’s scal­ing back of the Bears Ears and Grand-Stair­case Es­calante na­tional mon­u­ments.

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