Durbin Continues To Press Interior Secretary On Proposed Shrinking Of National Monuments
WASHINGTON—Following a meeting with U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is once again asking Secretary Zinke to share maps and documentation detailing any changes he is recommending regarding the boundaries and management of existing national monuments in a memorandum referred to as “Monument Review,” as well as any document explaining what legal authority President Trump plans to use to enact the changes. This letter follows reports that President Trump is expected to announce his decision to shrink two National Monuments – Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante – in Utah on Monday.
In a letter to Secretary Zinke, Durbin also pressed him for a timeline on his responses to all substantive public comments the Department of the Interior received regarding the review and whether or not ruins in Fry Canyon will be protected in the new Monument boundaries he is proposing.
“Reports of President Trump’s decision to shrink these National Monuments puts the future of these resources in jeopardy and threatens our culture, history, and heritage. And if President Donald Trump decides to use the Antiquities Act to reverse one of these monuments, he is going to be treading in uncharted waters,” said Durbin. “These monuments are for all of us, and we must ensure that they remain in their natural condition for current and future generations to enjoy.”
In October, Durbin led 13 of his Senate colleagues in a letter to President Trump urging him to maintain the current boundaries and management plans for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments in Utah. In April, Durbin introduced legislation – America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act – to protect 9.2 million acres of public land in Utah that is rich in archaeological resources and home to numerous rare plant and animal species.
In October, it was reported by both The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal that Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke recommended modifying certain national monuments, including shrinking the boundaries of at least four western sites in a memorandum referred to as “Monument Review.”
Full text of the letter is available here and below:
November 29, 2017
Dear Secretary Zinke,
Thank you for meeting with myself and other Senators to discuss the Administration's 'Monuments Review'. During our meeting, you committed to respond to all substantive public comments the Department of the Interior received regarding the review. What is the timeline for you responses and will you be making them public?
In addition, I would like to renew my request for maps and documentation detailing any changes you are recommending regarding the boundaries and management of existing national monuments, as well as any document explaining what legal authority the President plans to use to enact the changes.
Finally, in our meeting, you stated that the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument would be significantly reduced to the land directly surrounding the buttes as those are the only areas with artifacts. However, during my visit to the Monument in September, I saw ruins (pictures enclosed) in Fry Canyon, which is outside of this area. Would these ruins be protected in the new Monument boundaries you are proposing?
Thank you again for meeting to discuss this important issue and I look forward to your response.
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