Rep. Poliquin says Secretary Zinke Strikes the Right Balance

Zinke recommends that these National Monuments have their proclamations modified to prioritize commercial exploitation. With your support, we will stop the Trump administration from putting their Big Energy donors ahead of our cultural and natural history - and save these truly special places for generations to come. 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.

But the head of the nonprofit Friends of Gold Butte vowed a legal challenge of any boundary change by presidential edict.

The memo then calls on the president to change the proclamations establishing the two monuments in New Mexico and the management plans for those sites "to protect objects and prioritize public access; infrastructure upgrades, fix and maintenance; traditional use; tribal cultural use and hunting and fishing rights".

In the past, Congressman Steve Pearce has called for reducing the size of the monument from more than 496,000 acres to 60,000 acres.

"He's being true to his word", Assemblyman Chris Edwards (R-District 19) said.

"I was pretty happy with the fact Gold Butte is going to be worked on, it's going to hopefully sent down to the right size", Edwards said.

In a joint news release, Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden noted that the President and Interior Secretary have refused requests to make the recommendations public.

Edwards was with Zinke while the secretary toured Gold Butte, and said the list of suggestions shows Zinke listened to locals.

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A leaked Interior Department memo on the future of several major national monuments around the country surprised observers with what it did not say.

But not everybody shares that view. "This is all political posturing", McIntosh says, of the review process. The monument, encompassing 4,913 square miles off the coast of New England, protects ecological resources and species including deep-sea corals; sperm, fin, and sei whales; Kemp's ridley sea turtles; and deep-sea fish.

'If Teddy were alive today, he'd declare political war on Zinke and Trump, ' she said. "We'll see what President Trump does about it", Brown said. "A lot of Nevadans, a majority of Nevadans, have asked for this land to be protected for decades, and now they're proposing rejections to what was protected so we're angry".

Objects that have been protected in recent designations include biodiversity at Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument - the "spectacular variety of rare and lovely species of plants and animals" that live there, according to the proclamation that established the monument in 2000. It would protect the signature cliff dwellings of the ancient Native Pueblo people and pictograph- and petroglyph-covered walls within the land. He also said that only federal land can be included, not state or private property.

The biggest opponent of the monument is Rep. Steve Pearce, a member of the congressional "Anti-Parks Caucus" that works to remove protections from American lands.

The monuments targeted in the memo were created by former presidents George W. Bush, a Republican, and Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

And a lot of people do cherish national monuments.

"The only way it could be better if it was from the same year the O&C act happened, because it was the same lawyer who worked on the O&C act, he knew the legislative intent", Freeman said. The report says that decisions to shelter certain "objects" in some modern monuments were "likely politically motivated".

  • Ismael Montgomery