UPDATE: U.S. recommends reductions to 10 national monuments

Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, pictured, is one of the four protected areas Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended that President Trump shrink. (© Bob Wick, BLM/Flickr Creative Commons)

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended reductions in 10 U.S. national monuments and parks, The Washington Post reported.

The recommendation, attributed to a leaked memo, calls for shrinking at least four sites and changing management at all 10 sites to permit previously restricted activities such as grazing and mining.

The news comes several weeks after the conclusion of an unusual, months-long review of national monuments established by previous U.S. presidents under the Antiquities Act recommended cuts to an unspecified handful of monuments. In the weeks before the recommendation, over 3 million public comments flooded in to the Interior Department in overwhelming support of these areas, and multiple groups vowed legal opposition.

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Two marine national monuments — Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll — were among the 10 recommended for reductions. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in northwestern Hawai‘i, meanwhile, was not slated for any immediate action, according to the Post.

Conservation groups roundly criticized the news.

“This recommendation runs counter to the views of millions of Americans and the overwhelming global consensus on ocean conservation,” said M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International. “The world understands that we need more protection of our oceans, not less. Just in the past two months, we have seen major new commitments from Canada, Colombia, Chile and the Cook Islands expanding marine protections in their waters. These nations understand that healthy oceans are critical for productive fisheries and economic growth. The Administration’s proposed rollback is out of step with that reality.”

The final decision on these areas rests with President Trump. The White House has announced no timeline for that announcement.

Bruno Vander Velde is CI’s editorial director. 

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