Leaked Memo on Limiting National Monuments

Recently, a leaked memo from Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to President Trump recommended that the boundaries of four national monuments be trimmed, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah, Cascade Siskiyou in Oregon and Gold Butte in Nevada. Zinke also recommended extensive changes to the way at least six monuments are managed by allowing logging, mining, drilling on monument sites, and opening up vast swaths of ocean to commercial fishing. 

Shrinking the acreage or eliminating the designation of established monuments undermines years of community planning, input, collaboration, and support. Further, opening up our monuments to corporate exploitation, as suggested in the leaked memo, will lead to irreparable damage to some of America’s most pristine public lands and waters. 

Zinke’s memo comes on the heels of a public comment period where 2.8 million Americans called on the Secretary to preserve and protect all our national monuments in their current form. ASLA weighed in urging the administration to support the Antiquities Act in its current form and interpretation and to maintain the current boundaries, which were established with significant public input. Unfortunately, with this memo, it appears that Secretary Zinke has ignored the will of the American people. 

America’s public lands, waters, and shores are national treasures. These special places create thousands of jobs, generate billions of dollars in economic activity, and provide visitors an opportunity to connect with nature and our nation’s rich history.  ASLA and its advocates continue to urge policy makers to take any appropriate actions to protect and preserve our national monuments for the enjoyment of future generations. 

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