Honey, I shrunk the national monuments

Honey, I shrunk the national monuments

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday called on President Donald Trump to shrink a total of four national monuments and change the way 10 others are managed, a sweeping overhaul of how protected areas are maintained in the United States.

"When the powers are abused to make a monument into a park, that is not within the powers of the president under the Antiquities Act to do", he said. "This is an example of a special interest", Zinke said Tuesday.

"We're giving a voice back to Utah, a voice back to the local communities that live and work there".

In a report issued Tuesday, Zinke recommends downsizing the almost 300,000-acre monument "to ensure that the monument reservation is limited to the smallest area compatible with the protection of the objects identified and protect historic water rights". "I think it is shameful and appalling that they would blatantly lie in order to get money in their coffers".

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However, Zinke said he believes public use is important, and the nation's lands are "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people".

A "Made in Maine" solution is the federal recommendation for the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The federal government still controls the 500-plus Wilderness Study Areas covering more than 12 million acres in the USA - as well as the existing 200-plus Wilderness Areas that already seal off more than 8 million acres.

In his final report to the president, Zinke recommended that timbering should be permitted on the property and that infrastructure upgrades and public access for "traditional uses" like snowmobiling and hunting should be prioritized in a management plan. "We want to share that with as many people as we can".

Why not leave the entire process to Congress, including the designations themselves? Instead of firing off press releases, members of Congress could take charge by repealing the act and assuming the responsibility of designating any new monuments.