Today the Department of the Interior issued a press release noting that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has submitted his much-anticipated report and recommendations on the fate of twenty-two national monuments – those public lands conserved for fish, wildlife, scenery, scientific and recreation values – to President Trump. The release spurred numerous press reports that the Secretary is recommending the President shrink an unidentified number of national monuments.
The report was prompted by an executive order from President Trump ordering the Department of the Interior to conduct a review of national monuments more than 100,000 acres designated since 1996.
Trout Unlimited views presidential action to modify or diminish any national monument as undermining the Antiquities Act of 1906, a law signed by Theodore Roosevelt and that has been used by sixteen Presidents – eight Republican and eight Democrat – to protect some of America’s most iconic landscapes. While on occasion some presidents have diminished the size of national monuments, none have done so since the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act in 1976, which reserved for Congress the authority to change or rescind national monuments.
At this point, few details have been revealed to the public and it remains to be seen which monuments could be modified or what boundary changes have been recommended. All that has been released so far is a “summary” that does not offer specifics and the Department’s news release did not indicate if or when the full report will be made public.
Thousands of TU members and thirty TU State Councils were among the 2.8 million Americans who commented on the review process – ninety-nine percent speaking out in support of national monuments – and it is important that we are informed of the Administration’s plans for our public lands. These are America’s lands and we are eagerly awaiting key details affecting our members on the ground and local communities.
Hunters, anglers and public land enthusiasts from all walks of life have made it absolutely clear that we want to see our national monuments kept just the way they are. To do otherwise would jeopardize a legacy that began with Theodore Roosevelt and has enabled the conservation of some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the country.