10 biggest takeaways from Secretary Zinke’s
Monuments Review summary
Submitted comments from monument proponents were largely based on the false narrative that lacking monument status opened up the areas in question to the transfer or sell-off of public lands. Comments in favor of maintaining the national monuments in question were part of “a well orchestrated national campaign organized by multiple organizations.”
(Free Range Report) – On Thursday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent his Monuments Review Report to the White House for final approval by President Trump. From the beginning, when in April President Trump set forth his executive order for a review of all national monuments created or enlarged since 1996 by presidential use of the Antiquities Act, this process has been guided by the idea that states and localities should have greater control over their public lands. The Interior Department press release reiterates the Administration’s position:
The review was initiated by President Trump in order to restore trust in the multiple-use mission of the Department and to give rural communities a voice in federal land management decisions. In order to make the process transparent and give local residents and stakeholders a voice.
And in Secretary Zinke’s words:
“No President should use the authority under the Antiquities Act to restrict public access, prevent hunting and fishing, burden private land, or eliminate traditional land uses, unless such action is needed to protect the object,” said Secretary Zinke.“The recommendations I sent to the president on national monuments will maintain federal ownership of all federal land and protect the land under federal environmental regulations, and also 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.”
The most significant take-away’s from the report are:
•The Trump Administration believes the Antiquities Act should be returned to its original usage and intent as written in 1906. National monuments should not be used to set aside massive regions of land and resources, but are intended to protect “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest,” by restricting the authority to Federal lands, and by limiting the size of the monument to “the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects.” Congress retained its authority to make land use designations without such limitations.
•Though historically controversial, the Antiquities Act has been most abused in recent years to create immense national monuments of over 100,000 acres in size, which have swallowed up private property, communities, state lands, and important economic resources.
•The use of the Antiquities Act originally focused on truly unique geological features (Devil’s Tower WY) and priceless cultural antiquities, but recently the use of executive power has been expanded to include ‘viewsheds,’ ‘landscapes,’ ‘biodiversity,’ and other vaguely-defined uses.
•Although protecting treasured geological features and antiquities is an important role of government, all large designations should be passed through Congress in order to protect the rights of the people, and, “No President should use the authority under the Act to restrict public access, prevent hunting and fishing, burden private land, or eliminate traditional land uses, unless such action is needed to protect the object.”
•President Trump’s Monuments Review is not unprecedented, and at least 18 other actions have been taken by past administrations to modify or reduce the size of national monuments.
•The methodology of the of the review process included; an emphasis on preserving actual antiquities within the boundaries of the monuments in question while meeting the Antiquities Act criteria of “the smallest area compatible”; holding listening sessions with local residents, tribes, and other local and state stakeholders directly impacted by monuments; taking online comments; and reviewing existing policies on public access, hunting and fishing rights, and traditional uses within the designated areas “such as timber production and grazing, economic and environmental impacts…”
•Each of the reviewed monuments were of different sizes, and had unique features within their boundaries. Some of the recent monuments encompass million of acres and many of of the designations were found to be political or arbitrary. Some had no scientific basis for application of the Antiquities Act, and the definitions of “object” to be preserved, and “smallest area compatible” were far outside the Act’s intended provisions. Some of the monuments enjoy the support of local interests, and others remain highly controversial and divisive with local interests desiring, sometimes drastic, modifications and reductions.
•Submitted comments from monument proponents were largely based on the false narrative that lacking monument status opened up the areas in question to the transfer or sell-off of public lands. Comments in favor of maintaining the national monuments in question were part of “a well orchestrated national campaign organized by multiple organizations.”
•Comments by opponents of the current scope and size of the national monuments in question generally supported traditional multiple use in the areas, and were submitted by “local residents associated with industries such as grazing, timber production, mining, hunting and fishing, and motorized recreation.”
•Opponents’ comments cited other instances in which monument designations limited or prohibited traditional multiple uses of public lands and economic activities. Opposition was largely based on prior experiences by those near or within the boundaries of national monuments “where monument designation has resulted in reduced public access, road closures, hunting and fishing restrictions, multiple and confusing management plans, reduced grazing allotments and timber production, and pressure applied to private land owners encompassed by or adjacent to a monument to sell.”
The report appears to be an honest assessment of the public’s reaction to Trump’s Monuments Review, as well as a head’s up about the false narratives upon which proponents of immense national monument designations have based their support. President Trump will review Secretary Zinke’s report and recommendations, so there is still time for folks to comment directly to the Administration via email, White House website comments and social media. But there is sure to follow a slough of hysterical articles, progressive politician panic attacks, and lawsuits–countless lawsuits–launched by the special interest purveyors of false narratives, whose delight is locking up lands and resources, while holding in contempt the people most impacted by monumental land grabs.
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