USA national monuments under threat after Trump review

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that four large national monuments in the West be reduced in size, potentially opening up hundreds of thousands of acres of land revered for natural beauty and historical significance to mining, logging and other development. Only one of the monuments targeted, the Cascade-Siskiyou on the OR border, has land in the state. "If President Trump acts in support of these recommendations, The Wilderness Society will move swiftly to challenge those actions in court", Williams said.

The memo does raise concerns about restrictions that have limited historic uses such as grazing by Hispanic ranchers in the north and urges federal agencies to work together to assess border safety issues in the south.

Other land monuments were also recommended for downsizing or being made less restrictive, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Trump ordered the review earlier this year after complaining about improper "land grabs" by former presidents, including Barack Obama.

"It's gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we're going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place".

The Trump administration's plan for shrinking and diminishing protections at America's national monuments appears far more expansive than previously reported, targeting 10 of the nation's most ecologically sensitive landscapes and marine preserves for diminished protection.

Zinke declined to say whether portions of the monuments would be opened up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries for which Trump has advocated.

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They are not as protected as United States national parks, but some have limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as off-road vehicles.

No other president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have trimmed and redrawn boundaries 18 times, according to the National Park Service.

A leaked report written by United States interior secretary Ryan Zinke recommends that six of the 27 sites should be cut in size and changes made to around four others.

"Acting on these recommendations would represent an unprecedented assault on our parks and public lands, and undermine bipartisan progress to protect our lands and waters that dates to Theodore Roosevelt", said Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society. Zinke did not specify in his 19-page memorandum how the boundaries of that or any of the other public lands targeted should be changed.

A spokeswoman for Zinke referred questions Sunday night to the White House, which did not offer immediate comment.

Several US national monuments could be reduced in size or changed under proposals submitted to Donald Trump.

By sealing off more than 3 million acres in solidly Republican Utah, Obama and Clinton hurt local economies in rural areas that depend on logging and ranching, said Matt Anderson of the conservative Sutherland Institute.

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