Interior secretary wants to keep national monument in Maine

Interior secretary wants to keep national monument in Maine

There were fears that Zinke would recommend the outright elimination of some of the monuments on the list, but on Thursday, speaking to the Associated Press in Billings, Montana, he said he will not recommend eliminating any.

No president has ever rescinded a national monument, though presidents of both parties have in the past have changed monument boundaries.

Zinke visited the state last month and held a series of private stakeholder meetings.

"The Bears Ears National Monument contains some objects that are appropriate for protection under the act", Zinke wrote in the interim report, referring to rock art and sacred Native American sites.

President Trump ordered the unprecedented review in April as part of an executive order he said was created to combat "the abusive practice" of turning lands already owned by the federal government into national monuments by giving them a higher level of protection from mining, logging and other extractive industries.

These are the monuments located in California that could lose their designation.

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's review of the national monuments "has been a complete sham" and a pretext for "selling out our public lands and waters" to the oil industry and others.

Trump's choice of January 1, 1996, as the starting date for his review was prompted by lingering resentment among Utah conservatives of Bill Clinton's designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that year.

The ranchers also have voiced opposition to any new wilderness designations as minority farm and ranching groups continue to push the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address decades of discrimination and civil rights violations, particularly against Hispanic ranchers and land grant heirs in New Mexico.

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It's unclear what that means for the 87,500-acre (35,410-hectare) Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, established a year ago by President Barack Obama. Some environmental groups have already indicated they would file legal challenges to any effort to change the boundaries of any national monuments.

He adds: "We will do everything that we can to assure that these public lands and our monuments stay protected now and for future generations".

The Interior Department hasn't yet released the details of Mr. Zinke's review.

"A change can be a small tweak or near annihilation", Savitz said.

Other sites that might see changes include the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument in the Utah desert, consisting of cliffs, canyons, natural arches and archaeological sites, including rock paintings; Katahdin Woods and Waters, 136 square miles of forest of northern ME; and Cascade Siskiyou, a 156-square-mile region where three mountain ranges converge in Oregon. Obama and Bush also set aside ocean areas, including off Hawaii and American Samoa, as new monuments under the Antiquities Act, banning oil and gas drilling and undersea mining.Some groups welcomed Trump's review.

But there would be changes to a "handful", he said.

Jacqueline Savitz, senior vice president of Oceana, which has been pushing for preservation of five marine monuments included in the review, said that simply saying "changes" are coming doesn't reveal any real information.

In a press released Thursday, Zinke said his recommendations "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".

Their origin dates to the 1906 Antiquities Act, a law signed by President Theodore Roosevelt to reduce looting and theft of Indian pottery and other artifacts in New Mexico and other areas.

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