US Interior chief to visit Maine monument under review

Cheryl Sanders
June 15, 2017

(Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP, File).

Zinke recommended downsizing the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah on Monday after visiting the land in May.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says the pendulum has swung too far toward protecting public lands and away from the "multiple-use" concept advanced by Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the Forest Service and an early leader in the conservation movement.

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File).

Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah protects one of most significant cultural landscapes in the United States, with thousands of archaeological sites, ancient rock art and cliff dwellings, as well as ceremonial kivas surrounded by sandstone canyons, desert mesas, forested highlands and the monument's namesake twin buttes.

His comments came during a tour of the land as part of a federal review ordered by President Donald Trump over whether then-President Barack Obama acted legally by designating 27 monuments.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - In a story June 13 about the national monuments review, The Associated Press reported erroneously the year the Antiquities Act was passed. He is responding to Republicans in Utah who argue that the Bears Ears national monument will harm the state's economy, although others maintain that protected lands attract visitors to the state.

During the visit, Zinke noted that he's been to ME before.

Opponents of other sites are making similar plans after the Bears Ears decision, saying the designations often close areas to oil, gas and mineral development along with other uses. That's especially so, it says, when a president is correcting a predecessor's act that exceeded what a law intended - such as creating vast monuments when the Antiquities Act says they should consist of "the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected". "Under the former administration, we questioned whether this is about conservation or just control". He is expected to issue a final report in late August for all the monuments.

They assert the 1906 Antiquities Act allows presidents to create monuments but only gives Congress the power to modify or rescind them.

Speaking to press atop a lookout at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Zinke said he didn't believe that dividing the monument's assets, like he recommended with Bears Ears national monument, would be a good fit. "And if President Trump asks Congress to put this region at risk by reducing the amount of protection, I will fight him every step of the way". Using the same overheated rhetoric these politicians use to smear monuments, public lands, and public land managers, Trump made it clear he was signing the order at the behest of his Utah allies - an affront to the 77 percent of Montanans and 80 percent of Westerners who, according to a 2017 Colorado College poll, support existing national monuments. A central pillar of Theodore Roosevelt's legacy, this 1906 law gives USA presidents the authority to designate monuments - that is, to set aside and safeguard public lands with outstanding natural, cultural, historical, and scientific value to the people of this country. For instance, some policies include limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as riding off-road vehicles.

Most likely, this move to try and downsize the monument protection also is illegal.

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