San Gabriel National Monument Not on Interior Secretary's Shrink List

Topp Hut

Topp Hut

Zinke's recommendations to pare down the four Western monuments - and allow more logging and other development in three other monuments - "represent an unprecedented assault on our parks and public lands" by the Trump administration, said Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society.

The White House said the administration is still considering the recommendations in a memo summarizing Zinke's review, which was completed in August. Zinke is not recommending elimination of any of the 27, but has proposed shrinking several - most notably Utah's Bears Ears National Monument - and opening others to additional uses.

In April, the president ordered Zinke to review 27 monuments-all larger than 100,000 acres-that have been granted federal protections under the Antiquities Act since 1996, claiming that his predecessors went too far when designating certain US lands and waters as protected from commercial activity.

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Zinke also wrote that former President Obama's proclamation establishing both New Mexico monuments should be amended to "protect objects and prioritize pubic access, infrastructure repairs, fix and maintain traditional uses, tribal and cultural use and hunting and fishing rights". The restrictions aren't as stringent as for national parks, but some policies include limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as riding off-road vehicles. The recommendations urged Trump to amend monument proclamations "to protect objects and prioritize public access; infrastructure upgrades, fix and maintenance; traditional use; tribal cultural use; and hunting and fishing rights".

But significant reductions in the size of the monuments, especially those created by Obama, would mark the latest in a string of actions where Trump has sought to erode his Democratic predecessor's legacy.

Grand Staircase has been a source of ire for local officials and Republican leaders for more than two decades amid complaints that its 1996 designation as a monument by former President Bill Clinton closed off too much land to development. The land had been donated to the park service for a national monument by Elliotsville Plantation, a nonprofit created by St. Clair's mother, conservationist and entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby.

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If the White House decides only to make access and management changes to New Mexico's two newest monuments, instead of reductions in size, it would allay the worst fears of environmental and outdoor recreation enthusiasts who opposed any changes at all.

Zinke's plan also would allow logging at a newly designated monument in ME and urges more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico.

An aerial photo of Tramp Ridge in Gold Butte National Monument on Friday, July 21, 2017.

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The Wilderness Society, a land conservation and environment group, suggested that if Zinke's overall report recommendations are finalized the matter could end up in court. But while he said the recommendation "basically says we should continue to do exactly what we are doing", St. Clair said it all depends on how the Trump administration implements the vague language within the report.

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