Interior Department Proposes Shrinking Some National Monuments

Published October 26, 2017

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking the size and modifying the management of at least 10 national monuments.

According to a leaked memo obtained by The Washington Post on September 18, permitted uses might include logging, oil and gas production, grazing, and hunting and fishing.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April directing Zinke to review all the national monuments declared in the previous since 1996.

Zinke recommends Trump reduce the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, Nevada’s Gold Butte, and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou. He also recommends shrinking two marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean and amending the proclamations for 10 monuments to allow for various commercial activities previously allowed in these areas but now restricted.

Preliminary Praise

Though Trump has yet to announce a final decision on Zinke’s proposals, some in industry have already praised the suggested changes.

Eric Reid, general manager of Seafreeze Shoreside, a Rhode Island-based seafood wholesale company, said in a press statement the recommendations “make us hopeful that we can recover the areas we have fished sustainably for decades. We are grateful that the voices of fishermen and shore-side businesses have finally been heard.”

Matthew Anderson, director of the Coalition for Self-Government in the West, says the recommendations are a good step toward ending presidential abuses of the 1906 Antiquities Act.

“If accurate, the leaked memo offers hope to those who depend on access to our public lands,” said Anderson. “Presidents of both political parties have abused the Antiquities Act for decades, locking up life-sustaining resources and eroding rural communities.

“The Trump administration’s review of egregious national monument designations is the first step in reining in presidential overreach and restoring the original intent of the Antiquities Act,” Anderson said.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.