Ryan Zinke, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, recommended shrinking six national monuments after a review ordered by President Donald Trump.
But the Mojave Trails National Monument wasn’t one of them, nor did Zinke recommend any other changes to the Southern California site in his memo.
The Zinke’s report to the president wasn’t supposed to be released publicly, but several media outlets acquired a copy of it late Sunday. The Associated Press reported Monday:
The Interior secretary’s plan would scale back two huge Utah monuments — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — along with Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou. More logging and other development also would be allowed at three other monuments — two in New Mexico and one in Maine. […]
Two marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean also would be reduced under Zinke’s memo, which has not been officially released. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the memo. […]
National monument designations add protections for lands known for their natural beauty with the goal of preserving them for future generations. The restrictions aren’t as stringent as for national parks, but some policies include limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as riding off-road vehicles. […]
Trump ordered the review, especially those created by predecessor Barack Obama, shortly after taking office earlier this year. That prompted fears the 1.6-million-acre Mojave Trails — which includes about 90 miles of Route 66 in Southern California — would be on the chopping block after Obama designated it in February 2016.
Trump could ignore the recommendations and order the elimination or vast shrinkage of other national monuments. That would prompt immediate lawsuits from multiple states and Native American tribes. If Trump simply follows the memo’s recommendations, a lawsuit still may happen, because tribes in Utah fiercely oppose changing the Bears Ears monument.
No U.S. president has tried to eliminate a national monument. A few presidents have trimmed acreage or redrawn boundaries 18 times, the National Park Service told the AP.
(Image of Amboy Crater near Amboy, California, by davelawrence8 via Flickr)