Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

Several question Ryan Zinke's recommendation to cut Cascade-Siskiyou

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke hikes along the Butler Wash Indian Ruin trail alongside Utah Gov. Gary Herbert during a tour of the Bears Ears National Monument on Monday Interior Secretary Endorses Shrinking 6 National Monuments
Tracy Craig | 21 September, 2017, 00:16

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, said Monday he was concerned about the lack of specifics in the memo, saying "New Mexicans are still in the dark about the future of our treasured monuments".

More than 2.8 million people wrote to Zinke and the Interior Department on this matter, almost all of them urging the administration to preserve protections for these iconic places.

Zinke has declined to say whether portions of any monuments under review would be opened up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries for which Trump has advocated. Today, in the form of 19 fuzzy photos of computer screens, the American public saw for the first time Interior Sec. "But it does bring into account why the Antiquities Act must be reformed so that it becomes logical.

"We hope that the White House will extend these recommendations to the Papahanaumokuakea Monument, where President Obama closed an area almost the size of Alaska without a substantive public process", said Sean Martin, president of the Hawaii Longline Association, in a news release from the nonprofit Saving Seafood. His goal was to trigger dramatic changes in monument protections or boundaries to allow fossil fuel development, logging, mining and other development on these public lands.

Zinke's recommendations were revealed in a leaked memo intended for the White House.

In July, O&C County Commissioners met with the Interior Secretary, along with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden. We will continue to fight for its protection until an official announcement is made that the Carrizo Plain is no longer under review.

We are also concerned by several misstatements and errors in the leaked report. Presidential or congressional action will be required to "implement" the recommendations, and WELC will challenge any adjustment of the monument's boundaries or management emphasis.

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In addition, the leaked report contains a biased analysis of the 2.8 million public comments received during the formal comment period. The president said that the Bears Ears designation "never should have happened" and that it was part of "this massive federal land grab that's gotten worse and worse and worse". In the months that followed, there was an outpouring of support for the current size of the monument.

Zinke submitted his report to Trump by the August 24 deadline, but it has not been publicly released.

This shoddy research and writing is to be expected, given that Secretary Zinke left for a romantic overseas vacation just before his report was due, and his Interior Department offered its own misleading messaging following the report deadline. It is disingenuous for him to now try to dismiss and minimize the public's overwhelming support for keeping our national monument lands and waters intact. The remaining four areas would not have reduced borders, though Zinke does recommended altering how they are used.

Some fishermen's groups in New England opposed the monument's designation past year.

Zinke's memo to Trump noted the Mesquite water district's "historic water rights". Despite evidence that the economies of counties bordering national monuments are not negatively impacted by protections, the report repeatedly links monuments to financial hardship and calls for opening up protected areas to extractive activities.

"Using an unprecedented and legally dubious strategy, President Trump is threatening one of the most biodiverse places in America and ignoring the extensive public process that informed the expansion of the monument", Merkley said in a prepared statement.

Senator Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate energy committee, tweeted that former President Teddy Roosevelt, a conservationist, would "roll over in his grave" if he saw Zinke's "attacks" on public lands.

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