TTACK ON NATIONAL MONUMENTS September, Zinke called on Trump to shrink four national monuments and to open six others to industrial activities such as drilling, mining, logging and commercial fishing. “What Trump and his administration are doing is illegal, plain and simple,” says Suh. “The law doesn’t give the president the power to undo the monument designations of his predecessors. If he acts on any of these recommendations, we’ll sue. An attack on one national monument is an attack on all of them because it threatens the underlying principle of conserving these places for future generations.” Among the monuments in Zinke’s crosshairs for immediate downsizing are two magnificent wildlands in southern Utah — Grand StaircaseEscalante and Bears Ears — both home to stunning redrock formations, deep sandstone canyons, colorful desert mesas and a host of wildlife. Grand Staircase-Escalante is also among the world’s premier sites for unearthing fossils of prehistoric species previously unknown to science, and Bears Ears encompasses more than 100,000 archeological and cultural sites of sacred significance to the region’s Native American tribes. Yet both monuments are coveted by the fossil-fuel industry: Big Coal wants to mine the coal reserves beneath Grand Staircase, while oil and gas companies hope for drilling rights within Bears Ears. It quickly became apparent where Zinke’s sympathies lie. When the secretary visited Utah as part of his “review,” he spent but one hour meeting with the coalition of Native tribes who have fought for years to protect the 1.35-million-acre monument and devoted the majority of his time to proindustry groups. The New York Times reported Zinke’s ultimate recommendation: shrink Bears Ears by a shocking 88 percent — to a mere 160,000 acres — and leave the vast majority of the
landscape and its national treasures unprotected. Zinke is targeting two other monuments for downsizing as well. Nevada’s Gold Butte is culturally and spiritually important to the Southern Paiute Tribes, in part for its thousands of ancient petroglyphs, and the rugged natural landscape provides critical habitat for such rare wildlife as the Mojave desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep. Farther west, the CascadeSiskiyou National Monument, straddling the Oregon–California border, is among the most biologically diverse places on earth, sustaining more than 3,500 wild species across more than 100,000 acres of meadows, mountains and forests. The interior secretary further wants to strip six national monuments of their protections from industrial exploitation, including Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks, both
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
in New Mexico, and Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters, encompassing one of the most pristine watersheds in the Northeast. The other three in Zinke’s sights are all marine national monuments. Opening them up to commercial fishing and other extractive uses would imperil the unique undersea formations and biologically [Continued on next page.]
Published on Nov 27, 2017
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