A leaked copy provided to the Washington Post found that Zinke has recommended boundary adjustments to four land and two water national monuments - including Utah's Bears Ears - while suggesting others be reopened to activities like commercial fishing and timber harvesting. He visited the OR monument in July as part of his review. Freeman said the association will be reviewing whether or not to go forward with the lawsuit at the end of the month.
The Wilderness Society has been very vocal in opposition to Zinke's proposal. The Pacific monuments were set up by President George W. Bush and expanded by Obama. Several are about the size of the state of DE, including Mojave Trails in California, Grand-Staircase Escalante in Utah and Bears Ears, which is on sacred tribal land.
"Adherence to the Act's definition of an "object" and "smallest area compatible" clause on some monuments were either arbitrary or likely politically motivated or boundaries could not be supported by science or reasons of practical resource management", Zinke found.
He further noted that the area around Utah's 1.9-million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument contains "an estimated several billion tons of oil and large oil deposits", according to Newsweek. His goal was to trigger dramatic changes in monument protections or boundaries to allow fossil fuel development, logging, mining and other development on these public lands. We're ready to fight this handover of our public lands to looters and polluters - on Capitol Hill, in the courts and with the grassroots - but we can't do it all without your help right now.
Five tribal nations consider Bears Ears sacred and are anxious about the thousands of archaeological sites.
"As always, the devil is in the details", Adams said. Such a conclusion would be consistent with the widespread public support recently expressed for the Carrizo Plain National Monument, including 153 businesses throughout the Central Coast region, 32 local elected officials, 4 chambers of commerce, 45 community organizations, and nine newspapers along with thousands of residents who submitted letters and postcards urging that the Carrizo Plain remain protected. Grand Staircase-Escalante, in southern Utah, includes almost 1.9 million acres in a sweeping vista larger than the state of Delaware. These, report The Post, "include Kentucky's Camp Nelson, an 1863 Union Army outpost where African-American regiments trained; the home of murdered civil rights hero Medgar Evers in Jackson, Miss.; and the 130,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine area in Zinke's home state of Montana, which is consider sacred by the Blackfeet Nation". The White House had refused to release the recommendations, but on Monday they were leaked to the media. "But it does bring into account why the Antiquities Act must be reformed so that it becomes logical.
A law signed in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, called the Antiquities Act, gives presidents the authority to establish national monuments without a vote of Congress, something that almost every president has done since then. He said many also failed to adequately account for local opinion. Zinke wanted to keep the monument recommendation secret. "American outdoor enthusiasts should have more access to public lands, not less".
No other president has tried to eliminate a monument, but they have trimmed them down in size. The memo states that instead of prohibiting commercial fishing, the government should allow it in the area under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which is the primary law governing the U.S.'s marine fisheries and meant to prevent overfishing and guarantee a safe source of seafood.