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Change My Be Coming for Some National Monuments

19 September 2017

The US interior secretary recommends reducing the size of at least four of 27 national monuments, reports say.

"This callous proposal will needlessly punish local, predominantly rural communities that depend on parks and public lands for outdoor recreation, sustainable jobs and economic growth", Williams said, vowing to challenge in court any actions by the Trump administration to reduce the size of national monuments. It urged rule changes to four others, including allowing commercial logging in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in ME; commercial fishing in Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off New England; and changes to two New Mexico national monuments, Organ Mountains Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte which could allow more cattle grazing, logging or mining.

Under a section on traditional uses, the memo says: "It appears that certain monuments were designated to prevent economic activity such as grazing, mining and timber production rather than to protect specific objects".

The American Samoa US Congresswoman, Aumua Amata Radewagen, had been pressing the US government to make the changes and end limitations on American Samoa's tuna industry.

Environmentalists say reducing restriction, and the size of protected areas, would harm the ecosystems the monuments are meant to protect.

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"Our recommendation (to Zinke) was to just make the northern boundary of the monument match the water district's southern boundary", Brown, in Mesquite, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. It is the first and only national monument specifically established to protect biological diversity.

While Zinke's review has been much more far-reaching, the two Utah monuments have been particular flashpoints for both proponents and opponents of past presidential actions to create monuments.

The documents also suggest a broader set of activities should be permitted in New Mexico's Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Nort. "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".

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was designated to protect biodiversity - the first national monument set aside with that sole objective.

Tribal leaders said President Obama's monument designation was already 30 percent smaller than what they wanted to protect.

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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. However, President Trump must still act on the recommendations and until he does we will continue working with local BLM officials to ensure that continued access to our water rights is maintained.

And Cascade-Siskiyou, an 86,000-acre monument in OR that was established by Clinton and doubled in size by Obama in January.

Lawson Fite, of the Portland-based council, said the monument's expansion caused these counties to lose revenue "as future timber sales have been cancelled".

Utah politicians, who have lobbied Trump since he was elected to revisit several Antiquities Act designations, praised his administration's push to scale back these areas.

"This complete lack of transparency is appalling and it demonstrates the arbitrary nature of Zinke's review", said Linda Castro, Assistant Policy Director for the California Wilderness Coalition, in a statement Monday.

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Cascade-SiskiyouPilot Rock rises into the clouds in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument near Lincoln, Ore.

Change My Be Coming for Some National Monuments