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Interior Secretary recommends shrinking four national monuments in western U.S. states
Zinke recommended paring down Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante, both in Utah. Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou are also on the chopping block.
By Jose Jefferies
Contributor
Jan 12, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — President Trump has the go-ahead to downsize the acreage of four specified land reserves in the U.S. west and hand the extracted land over to private loggers, miners, and other developers, according to a leaked memo. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had authored the memo as the concluding stage of a review of 27 sites earlier this year at the request of President Trump.
Zinke recommended paring down Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante, both in Utah. Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou are also on the chopping block. Two marine monuments on the Californa coast and one in Massachusetts would also undergo some reduction.
These four western sites constitute a combined 3.6 million acres, all created under Democratic presidential administrations that used a law that authorizes presidents to legally preserve sites that they consider to be historic or geographically or culturally important. Trump ordered a review of these and other sites at the start of his term to rein it what he considered to be a "massive land grab" by then-President Obama and other previous presidents. He and Zinke both said in White House statements that these previous administrations were overzealous in cordoning off large swaths of land from developers, and that in the process they stifled commercial activity that rural communities need.
But environmental groups blasted the decision, and several vowed to challenge it in court. Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society, argued that rural communities would be better off leaving the land as is.
"This callous proposal will needlessly punish local, predominantly rural communities that depend on parks and public lands for outdoor recreation, sustainable jobs and economic growth," Williams told the Washington Post.