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Our favorite stories about public lands and opportunities for you to get involved in protecting your outdoor experiences.

 

Interior Refuses to Show the Public Its National Monument Recommendations

Tania Lown-Hecht

Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument, one of the Utah monuments that will have protections revoked.

Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument, one of the Utah monuments that will have protections revoked.

Last Thursday, Secretary Zinke delivered his final recommendation on the future of 27 National Monuments to President Trump and released to the public only a short, 2-page “summary” of this report that provided scant details on his recommendations.

Bizarrely, Sec. Zinke claims that that providing an “adequate public process” was part of the impetus for the review, yet the review process has closed out the public at every turn. The report summary summarily dismisses more than 99% of the 2.5 million public comments gathered during the review as part of a “well- orchestrated national campaign.” Interior has not shared any of the (seemingly arbitrary) criteria it has used to determine which monuments will be affected, and Secretary Zinke has still refused to release his full recommendations to the public.

Since last week, we’ve only learned a few things. There is a general consensus that the Secretary has recommended large-scale changes to Bears Ears National Monument and Grand-Staircase Escalante in Utah, and likely to Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon. One report suggests that he will try to eliminate 90% of Bears Ears National Monument. Some say he could recommend changes to monuments in California, New Mexico, and some marine monuments. These landscapes could then be open for mining, drilling, and development.

 Any alteration to our national monuments runs counter to a long-standing tradition of Presidents and their Interior Departments trying to preserve public lands for this generation and the next and is especially insulting coming from two public officials who have repeatedly claimed to walk in Roosevelt’s footsteps.

Stay tuned – we will share as we know more!