Interior Secretary recommends no changes to Mojave Trails National Monument

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. […]

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

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)

18 thoughts on “Interior Secretary recommends no changes to Mojave Trails National Monument

  1. It seems strange that one person can have so much power in a supposed democracy. And over things that are very much local matters.

    1. The U.S. is not a democracy, but a republic. The representatives of such a government are elected in a democratic system by the people. And there are some things you don’t want to be decided by popular vote. Plus you have some things baked into the U.S. Constitution that allow for a strong central government.

      1. Whether you call it a Democracy or a Republic, that’s just semantics. They’re basically the same thing. And unfortunately, our current President is stomping on nearly everything that’s vital to the public interest. All he cares about is what HE wants.

    2. It is strange. Its unfortunate that his predecessors abused the Antiquites act to the point that he is forced to review and revise their unilateral declarations cordoning off such vast swaths of land. Obama, Bush and Clinton did these things without any approval from Congress, or input from locals – at least, the ones they disagreed with. The Antiquites Act needs to be amended to put most of the power back into congressional hands, where it should be, and the President should eliminate ALL “Monuments” not approved democratically, including Mojave Trails.

      1. To say there was no input is incorrect. Public hearings always are held before a national-monument designation. Anyone can show up to those, pro or con. I certainly can vouch for the hearings held for the Mojave Trails. And, yes, there were people who opposed it there. But not many.

      2. I did not say that there wasn’t a public input period, I was merely saying that they don’t listen to the voices they disagree with – they hear the voices that solidify their own position, a common human trait.
        “And, yes, there were people who opposed it there. But not many.” Just because a vocal representation of people showed up, doesn’t mean they were local, nor does it imply that they represent a majority of the citizens wishes within the vicinity of the area being designated. As you said, anyone can show up. Also, my other argument is that the ends do not justify the means – even if 99% of the world wants this monument, it should go through the people’s representatives and not be declared through some dictatorial edict! I find it fascinating how you dismiss the only person who actually represents that district and his proposal. Are you suggesting that he is advocating a position contrary to the majority position of those he represents? Or is it possible that you, and everyone else, is wrong? Is it possible that those who live there, in addition to those of us that are enthusiasts of old trails, don’t want to have to pay for the privilege of driving down a stretch of road that has been freely traversed for at least a century? Not that you care about such things, Ron – clearly, you would prefer that only people of physical and financial privilege be allowed to experience what you did without restriction for decades. How unfortunate!

      3. Polling was done in California about the Mojave Trails before the designation. The vast majority (70+ percent) favored it. It was north of 60 percent even for Republicans.

        So, yes, the representative was out of step with his constituents, apparently.

      4. Basing a local decision on polling throughout the state of California, a state so huge and diverse, is tyrannical. And has nothing to do with the districts opinion on this. What were the results in San Bernardino County? He may have been out of step with citizens in Ukiah, San Jose, Sacramento, Truckee, Yorba Linda and Eureka – to name a few – but he doesn’t represent them! He represents his district. A district I’m familiar wiith. A district devoid of many of the elites that have a stranglehold on political and cultural power in that state. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number was near 100% in Silicon Valley – it’s easy to be in favor of something that will never affect you in your life! Most in that area would rather fly over it anyway, hopefully while sleeping on their way to NY or DC.

      5. The poll showed 70 percent support for the monument in desert areas.

        BTW, the polling outfit was by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican firm.

      6. You do realize that “desert areas” is a massive amount of real estate, with diverse topography and settlements, and I’m sure opinions. If they included Palm Springs and other lower Desert cities in the poll, and the Lancaster/Palmdale area, then once again that is not local – certainly wouldn’t be seen as such to inhabitants from Barstow to Needles. I’m sure you disagree, but maybe Cook is trying to protect the livelihoods of his local constituents and businesses? That area will never have a solar or wind farm, or new mining permits, or anything else to employ local residents. Tourism maybe, but that is extremely seasonal there, since a massive chunk of the year just walking around that area for a few minutes can be deadly! Regardless, sorry to split hairs here, I’m just trying to point out that these things are more nuanced than you present them, and can have unintended consequences…

      7. It’s possible Cook is trying to protect business interests — especially Cadiz Inc. — but not not necessarily constituent interests. Those two things don’t necessarily match up.

        The polling shows such a consistent and high support for the monuments across all sections of California, I find the notion there’s any sort of credible opposition very lacking. If you average a 70 percent support rate, you can call it a “mandate,” to quote a former Republican president.

  2. To me democracy – from two Greek words “demos” – the people – and the suffix “-cracy” – rule – means just that: “rule by the people”. It can take many forms, but usually means the people vote as to how a country is run; normally by voting for candidates who in turn vote in a parliament. India is also a republic, and is often called the largest democracy in the world. The USA has a Democratic Party. One can argue that any country – whether a republic, kingdom or other – where voters are given a closed list of candidates to vote for is in fact an elective oliigrachy, rule by the few; the voters are obliged to choose from a small number of candidates who want to rule the country, and the winners form a government of a few people rulling millions or tens, hundreds or thousands of millions of people. The UK is definitely an elective oligarchy. To an outsider some of the things “baked into the US Constitution” have no place in any 21st century country, whether republic, kingdom or “democracy”.

    1. I disagree the Constitution has “no place in any 21st-century country.” What I had in mind with the “baked into the Constitution” phrase is the Supremacy Clause, which states federal law is greater than any state law. Such a clause prevents abuses to citizens on the state and local level, such as the Jim Crow laws in the South just a few decades ago.

  3. I did say, Ron, “some parts” – especially the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    That was in 1790s language, when one map shows the Mississippi as the western border of the nascent USA. Today, with the US Army, US Air Force and US Navy – presumably all “well regulated militias” – why has the Second Amendment not been repealed? Or heavily amended?

    1. Self defense is a natural right, and the Founding Father’s recognized this – Jefferson specifically – in addition to “being necessary to secure a free state,” it is also a check on the power of an ever increasing tyrannical government. The “well regulated Militia” does not include your aforementioned “standing armies,” as Madison would refer to them, but to entities exclusive to the states composed of the regular citizens of each state. Hamilton in Federalist 26 makes this distinction quite clear. I am grateful for the 2nd amendment, and my states clause which goes even further to protect my right to self defense. Maybe individual rights are outdated, but in the history of the world it has rarely happened, and continues to not exist for the vast majority, so how could it be outdated if it has t really been tried?

  4. The point I was making is that, with a national army, navy and air force, there is no need for the Second Amendment to continue to exist. As for the way Trump is behaving, I can only repeat It seems strange that one person can have so much power in a supposed democracy.

    1. Rural residents definitely need guns for protecting themselves and their animals. Having grown up on a farm, you’d better have some sort of firearm around to kill varmints, especially when the sheriff’s deputy is 20 to 30 minutes away.

      That said, I have no problem with regulations on guns themselves. Even a rock-ribbed conservative such as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia drew the line at “unusual” weapons, such as flamethrowers and machine guns, and brandishing guns for the sake of intimidation.

  5. As far as the Mojave Trails issue, if he were to rescind the status, what does it mean exactly for Route 66? Would I be right in assuming, not much? Once again there appears to be a lot of extraneous information contained in your article, like Native Americans and Bears Ears – hundreds of miles from any 66 alignment – but very little relevant information concerning the subject of this website. Maybe you should follow up with some details, like what are the cons for 66 being within the borders of a regulated area – restrictions on access, potentially having to pay fees to drive through, etc. Just a thought…

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