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Interior secretary won't recommend eliminating national monuments, but other changes possible

Interior secretary won't recommend eliminating national monuments, but other changes possible

Students might be back in school, but the Labor Day holiday weekend beckons - and that means many Americans might make one final summertime jaunt to our national parks and monuments, including Waco Mammoth National Monument. While I'm glad to see Washington's national monuments appear to be safe from this attack, I'm troubled that Secretary Zinke and President Trump appear ready to overstep their authority in an unprecedented way. According to the report, support for weakening national monuments was highest in Utah, where 30 percent of respondents agreed that monuments should be shrunk or rescinded (60 percent opposed).

Native American advocates, environmentalists and others watching Thursday for U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's recommended changes to several national monuments including Utah's Bears Ears National Monument were surprised by an announcement scant on details of what he actually proposes.

No doubt, any decisions shifting policies or changing boundaries for monuments will trigger lawsuits.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to retain a newly created national monument in northern ME but he may recommend some changes.

If Trump adopts Zinke's recommendations, it could ease some of the worst fears of the president's opponents, who warned vast public lands and marine areas could be stripped of federal protection.

The Antiquities Act, signed into law in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, gives presidents the power to designate national monuments that safeguard "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures and other objects of historic or scientific interest".

The Antiquities Act is the first law to establish that archeological sites on public lands are important public resources.

A designation as a national monument is permanent, and prohibits mining and sets stringent protections for ecosystems on the site.

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Zinke retweeted a tweet from the AP Thursday of an interview where the secretary said he is recommending changes to a "handful" of monuments.

"The tourism benefits of the Carrizo to the communities of San Luis Obispo, Atascadero, Paso Robles, Santa Margarita, Taft, those are huge", Helete said, "those are massive benefits that simply would, for the most part, disappear if the Carrizo loses its monument status".

The Interior Department said Zinke's 120-day review included tours of monuments conducted by air, foot, auto and horseback, as well as virtual tour of a marine monument.

A statement from Americans for Prosperity thanked Zinke for giving Trump a "series of recommendations created to give additional flexibility to local communities impacted by overly broad management of federal lands under the Antiquities Act".

"From Alaska to Utah, people are prepared to stand up to Trump and Secretary Zinke and demand that the Interior Department protect public places from greedy oil and gas developers looking for short-term profit with long-term consequences". A spokeswoman said a public comment period on that review ended August 15 and no decisions have been made yet. During a two-month period of public comments, the Interior Department received more than 2.4 million comments - and an overwhelming majority was in favor of keeping the national monuments, according to the Center for Western Priorities.

Block said the claim "that these lands are being opened up for oil and gas is patently false". EOG Resources Inc. has held two permits to drill just outside Bears Ears for a couple of years but has not made use of them.

But the fight for the protection of these federal lands is far from over. "He and Trump will not be allowed to rob Americans of their public lands".

The fishing groups suing to try to overturn the creation of the Atlantic monument include the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association, Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association, Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, Rhode Island Fishermen's Alliance and Garden State Seafood Association.

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