Trump to open parts of Utah National Monument to miners, oil firms

Posted August 25, 2017

The White House will decide whether to take action on the monuments.

The White House said only that it received Zinke's recommendations and is reviewing them.

No other president has tried to eliminate a monument, but they have trimmed and redrawn boundaries 18 times, according to the National Park Service. However, changes could be made to the scope or management of monuments, Zinke said.

In a press released Thursday, Zinke said his recommendations "provide a much needed change for the local communities who border and rely on these lands for hunting and fishing, economic development, traditional uses, and recreation".

Environmental groups contend the Antiquities Act allows presidents to create national monuments but gives only Congress the power to modify them.

Zinke did not disclose specifics of his proposed changes in a plan he submitted to U.S. President Donald Trump. "The least he can do is return the favor".

"It is my hope that President Trump takes this opportunity to begin realigning uses of the law with its intended objective".

Monument supporters in Nevada are bracing for bad news.

Other sites that might see changes include the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument in the Utah desert, consisting of cliffs, canyons, natural arches and archaeological sites, including rock paintings; Katahdin Woods and Waters, 136 square miles of forest of northern ME; and Cascade Siskiyou, a 156-square-mile region where three mountain ranges converge in Oregon.

Carrizo Plain National Monument, a 246,000-acre area east of San Luis Obispo in the San Joaquin Valley, that is famous for its wildflower blooms and contains the largest native grassland remaining in California. President Bill Clinton declared the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996.

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Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, 331,000 federal acres between Mendocino County to Napa County known for bald eagles, black bears, rare plants and Indian history.

In 1938, the USA attorney general wrote a formal opinion saying the Antiquities Act authorized presidents to establish a monument but did not grant them the right to abolish one, and several legal scholars argue that Congress indicated in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 that it reserved the right to alter any existing monument.

Some monuments have been downsized over the years, either by presidential order or by Congress, while others have been enlarged.

Some people however, have expressed concerns in published articles or letters to the editor of select newspapers that monuments such as Basin and Range and Gold Butte are just "sellouts to special interests - companies that sell outdoors gear (to hikers and bicycle riders), and lobby endlessly for more monuments and wilderness areas - by which to sell even more equipment and high-end clothing..."

The monuments under review were designated by four presidents over the past two decades.

But many rural Western leaders have chafed at its breadth.

Zinke had previously announced he would ask Trump to reduce the size of the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, a proposal that drew opposition from conservationists and greens.

The marine national monument off the coast of New England was created a year ago by President Barack Obama. Obama and Bush also set aside ocean areas, including off Hawaii and American Samoa, as new monuments under the Antiquities Act, banning oil and gas drilling and undersea mining.Some groups welcomed Trump's review.

He adds: "We will do everything that we can to assure that these public lands and our monuments stay protected now and for future generations".

"It's about how we protect our resources, not if we protect them", said Bishop, noting that Obama had applied his authority under the Antiquities Act to more than 550 million acres of land and sea.