ST. GEORGE – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released the final report outlining recommendations he made to the president on national monument designations under the Antiquities Act.
According to a statement released by the Department of the Interior, here are recommendations Zinke made in the report:
Keep federal lands federal. The report does not recommend that a single acre of federal land be removed from the federal estate. If land no longer falls within a monument boundary it will continue to be federal land and will be managed by whichever agency managed the land before designation.
Add three new national monuments. Zinke recommended beginning a process to consider three new national monuments: the Badger II Medicine Area in Montana, Camp Nelson in Kentucky and the Medgar Evers Home in Mississippi.
Modify the boundaries and management of four monuments. Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Cascade-Siskiyou and Gold Butte national monuments. Click here to see a Department of the Interior map showing the changes to Grand Staircase-Escalante; and here to see a map showing the changes to Bears Ears.
Expand access for hunting and fishing. Maintain an ongoing review to ensure public access to encourage more hunting and fishing in monuments
“America has spoken and public land belongs to the people,” Zinke said in the statement. “As I visited the monuments across this country, I met with Americans on all sides of the issue – from ranchers to conservationists to tribal leaders – and found that we agree on wanting to protect our heritage while still allowing public access to public land. My recommendations to the president reflect that, in some circumstances, proclamations should be amended, boundaries revised and management plans updated.”
The statement also included the following list, titled “Fact vs. Fiction: Antiquities Act and Monument Review:
Myth: No president has shrunk a monument.
Monuments have been reduced at least 18 times under presidents on both sides of the aisle. Some examples include John F. Kennedy excluding Bandelier National Monument, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge reducing Mount Olympus National Monument, and Dwight Eisenhower reducing the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in Colorado.
Myth: The monument review will sell or transfer public lands to states.
This is not true. Zinke adamantly opposes the wholesale sale or transfer of public lands. The Antiquities Act only allows federal land to be reserved as a national monument. Therefore, if any monument is reduced, the land would remain federally owned and would be managed by the appropriate federal land management agency, such as the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Park Service.
Myth: Removing the monument designation from land will leave Native American artifacts and paleontological objects subject to looting or desecration.
This is not true. Whether these resources are found on land designated as a monument, national forest, BLM- managed public land or other federal land, it is generally illegal to remove or disrupt these resources without a permit issued by the federal government.
Myth: The monument review will close, sell or transfer national parks.
No national parks are under review.
Myth: The review was done without meeting advocates for national monuments.
Zinke visited eight monuments in six states and personally hosted more than 60 meetings attended by hundreds of local stakeholders. Attendees included individuals and organizations representing all sides of the debate, ranging from environmental organizations like the Wilderness Society and the Nature Conservancy to county commissioners, residents and ranchers who prefer multiple uses of the land.
Myth: Tribal nations were not consulted.
This is patently false. Before traveling to Utah, Zinke met with tribal representatives in his office. On his first day in Utah in May, he met with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition in Salt Lake City for just under two hours. Throughout the four-day survey of the Utah monuments, Zinke also met with local tribal representatives who represent different sides of the debate. He also met with tribal representatives for their input on several other monuments from Maine to New Mexico to Oregon and everywhere in between. Additionally, the department hosted several tribal listening sessions, including a four-hour session with the acting deputy secretary on May 30.