LEAKED: Zinke wants to strip TEN national monuments of protections

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, are included in Zinke's report as the Monuments that will be affected. "We need to know, will the ecological diversity and biodiversity help create a more stable marine environment?" says Zach Klyver, lead naturalist at the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co.

Environmental and conservation groups were quick to criticize the plans, which they have suggested could be illegal.

The Wilderness Society said the reported recommendations were "an unprecedented assault on our parks and public lands". "Leaving the protection of Native American sacred sites, outdoor recreation destinations, and natural wonders to the goodwill of polluting industries is a recipe for disaster", Sierra's head Michael Brune said.

More than 2.8 million people wrote to Zinke and the Interior Department on this matter, almost all of them urging the administration to preserve protections for these iconic places. Former President Barack Obama designated some 5,000 square miles at the edge of Georges Bank, a critical fishing area southeast of Cape Ann, about 100 miles east of Cape Cod, and south of Nova Scotia, as the marine monument about a year ago.

National monument designations have protected some of the most spectacular public landscapes in the country from fossil fuel extraction, mining and logging.

Throughout the document, Interior Secretary Zinke encourages the "lawful exercise of the President's discretion" to shrink the size of several national monuments.

Zinke noted that most public comment on the monuments review "were overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining existing monuments" but were the result of "a well-orchestrated national campaign organized by multiple organizations".

"To have a slap-dash report like this be used as justification for reducing the monument boundaries or protections would be insane".

He also recommended management changes to deal with the concerns of local officials and industries, and proposes "traditional uses" including commercial fishing be allowed.

Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke recommended at least four land monuments be shrunk and that 10 sites allow commercial activity. "I still think there's a chance for President Trump to do the right thing and side with the public". As New York Magazine noted, Zinke recommended in the memo that large areas of the marine monuments be reopened for commercial fishing.

Cascade-Siskiyou, in southwestern OR, protects about 113,000 acres in an area where three mountain ranges converge, while Nevada's Gold Butte protects almost 300,000 acres of desert landscapes that feature rock art, sandstone towers and wildlife habitat for bighorn sheep and the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument is not listed amongst the ten monuments slated for changes. He visited the OR monument in July as part of his review. The monuments in question were established in previous administrations under the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law authorizing presidents to set aside federal lands for protection.

Media captionIs Trump threatening the United States wilderness?

Since April, when President Trump ordered a review of national monuments created since 1996 to end "egregious use of government power", observers have been waiting for news on how Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would approach these federal lands. The report dismisses attendees of public hearings associated with recent monument designations as "advocates organized by non-governmental organizations (NGO) to promote monument designations", and discounts most public comments received over the past few months as "form comments associated with NGO-organized campaigns".

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

  • Santos West