As of Friday, September 1, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke sent a draft report to the president which included his findings and recommendations on national monuments that were under review.
The review was a result of an April 26 executive order, and included more than 60 meetings with hundreds of advocates and opponents of monument designations. It also included tours of monuments conducted over air, foot, car, and horseback (including a virtual tour of a marine monument). It also included a thorough review of more than 2.4 million public comments submitted to the department.
Additionally, countless more meetings and conversations between senior Interior officials and local, state, Tribal and non-government stakeholders including multiple Tribal listening sessions.
The review was initiated by President Trump in order to restore trust in the multiple-use mission of the department and to give rural communities a voice in federal land management decisions.
In order to make the process transparent and give local residents and stakeholders a voice, the Secretary announced the opening up of a formal comment period for the review May 5, as the president directed.
It was the first time a formal comment period was open for national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act.
“No president should use the authority under the Antiquities Act to restrict public access, prevent hunting and fishing, burden private land or eliminate traditional land uses, unless such action is needed to protect the object,” Secretary Zinke said.
“The recommendations I sent to the president on national monuments will maintain federal ownership of all federal land and protect the land under federal environmental regulations, and also 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,” he said.
While traveling across the country, Zinke met with hundreds of local stakeholders and heard concerns about some national monuments negatively impacting things like local revenue from federal lands, agriculture, private property rights, public access to land, traditional Tribal uses of the land and timber harvesting.
Zinke visited eight national monument sites in six states. They include Bears Ears (Utah), Grand Staircase Escalante (Utah), Katahdin Woods and Waters (Md.), Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Cascade Siskiyou (Ore. and Calif.), Organ Mountain Desert-Peaks (N.M.), Basin and Range (Nev.) and Gold Butte (Nev.).
National monuments were removed from review prior to the Aug. 24 deadline included Craters of the Moon, Hanford Reach, Upper Missouri River Breaks, Grand Canyon-Parashant, Canyons of the Ancients and Sand to Snow.