President Donald Trump signed an executive order today (April 26)-the 27th in his almost 100 days of presidency-directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the Antiquities Act and prior national monument designations (starting from January 1, 1996) that are at least 100,000 acres in size.
It is thought that the move will put at risk around 30 national monuments designated by Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama under the 1906 Antiquities Act. These land grabs occur with no input from Congress or the local communities most impacted by the designations.
While he acknowledged that national monuments could bring tourism, he said he thinks federal land should be managed for “multiple uses”. The Antiquities Act gave the power to presidents to establish any landmarks, structures and other “objects of historic or scientific interest” as land owned and controlled by the federal government.
According to The Hill, the order is aimed primarily at the Bears Ears National Monument, a 1.3 million-acre site in Utah that Obama designated in December that is sacred to Native American tribes. But Utah’s governor and the state’s congressional delegation opposed the designation, saying it went against the wishes of citizens eager for development.
“The executive order will direct me as the secretary to review prior monument designations and to suggest legislative changes or modifications to the monuments”, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters at the White House Tuesday evening. Included in the national monument are parts of Napa, Yolo, Solano, Lake, Colusa, Glenn and Mendocino counties. It encompases 346,000 acres.
Zinke was directed to produce an interim report in 45 days and make a recommendation on Bears Ears, and then issue a final report within 120 days.
“Let’s be clear”, Zinke said Wednesday.
The order instructs Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke to review land classified as national monument for evaluation in terms of economic development, as promised during Trump’s political campaign.
National monuments are historic sites or geographic areas – like Bears Ears National Monument in Utah or Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in ME – that have been granted special federal protections.
As he signed the order Wednesday, Trump said some of his actions may not be popular, but he believes he is doing the right thing.
“For years, the people of Utah and other rural communities have voiced concern and opposition to some monument designations, but too often in recent history, exiting presidents make designations despite those concerns, and the acreage is increasing”, he said.
The executive order was signed at the request of Republican Sen.
“This review is a first step towards monument rollbacks, which we will fight all the way”, said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.