On Sunday, September 17, a leaked copy of Secretary Zinke’s report on national monuments: Final Report Summarizing Findings of the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act, revealed his recommendations regarding at least 10 national monuments designated by past administrations.
While Zinke’s report leaves many questions unanswered and does not indicate the extent or location of the recommended reductions, it does advocate for a reduction in size of at least six national monuments, including Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou.
“The fact that we found out about this report through a leaked document is as deeply troubling as the murky details that the report contains,” said Adam Cramer, Executive Director of Outdoor Alliance. “Secretary Zinke continues to dismiss the significance of millions of comments from Americans gathered during the review. Our public lands unify us as a people and Secretary Zinke, with this report, has let the outdoor community — and the country — down.”
The leaked document continues the confusion around a four-month review of 27 national monuments, ordered by President Trump, who believed both Republican and Democratic presidents went too far in protecting public lands through the Antiquities Act in the past. During the review period, more than 2.5 million Americans submitted comments to the Department of the Interior urging them to keep public lands protected.
"Putting 27 national monuments on a hit list and then slowly whittling it down as if toying with our nation's heritage were some sort of reality TV game show has been an embarrassment and this "grand finale" is no better. We are disappointed in Secretary Zinke and the Department of Interior for ignoring the American people throughout this process and his recommendation exposes that the so-called public process was political theater," said Hilary Eisen, Recreation Planning and Policy Manager at Winter Wildlands Alliance and a fellow Montanan.
Outdoor Alliance does not believe that the Trump Administration has the legal authority to eliminate and change sections of national monuments, or their proclamations, to allow more industrial and commercial uses. Further, if the recommendations in the report are accepted, iconic American public lands will be sold out and exposed to meagerly regulated energy development. Beyond the recommendations in this report, Secretary Zinke’s move threatens the sanctity and protections of more than one hundred other national monuments — and the Antiquities Act itself.
"National monuments are the shared legacy of all Americans. These icons should be revered, not 'reviewed.' They are where climbers find solace and inspiration, ascending high peaks, desert towers and big walls. They allow us to test our mettle and connect with the wild that inspires us all," said Phil Powers, CEO of American Alpine Club.
Changes to permanently protected public lands are an attack on the Antiquities Act and an affront to a long-standing tradition of Presidents and their Interior Departments working to preserve public lands for this generation and the next. President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid outdoorsman and often considered the “conservation president,” signed the Antiquities Act into law in 1906 as a way for the president to protect public lands and waters from imminent threat. Both President Trump and Secretary Zinke have repeatedly claimed to walk in Teddy Roosevelt’s footsteps.
“In the lead up to Obama’s National Monument proclamation, Access Fund spent hundreds of hours of targeted advocacy work in Utah and Washington, DC demonstrating how significant the climbing is in southeastern Utah,” said Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson. “This targeted advocacy resulted in Bears Ears being the first national monument proclamation to specifically acknowledge rock climbing as an appropriate and valued recreation activity. This was a huge win for the climbing community. But today it’s clear the threats are real. The fate of Bears Ears National Monument, and Indian Creek, and millions of acres of public lands lies in the hands of President Trump. We urge the President not to act on the short-sighted recommendations of Secretary Zinke.”