Despite receiving 2.8 million comments from the public in support of our national monuments, U.S. Department of the Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke has advised President Trump to change the way at least 10 of these treasured areas are managed and to shrink the boundaries of at least four of them.
Last month, the Trump administration raised environmental alarm bells when–under alleged beverage industry pressure—it rescinded the 2011 "Water Bottle Ban" in national parks, an Obama-era guideline that allowed parks to prohibit the sale of disposable plastic water bottles on park facilities to reduce waste and carbon emissions.
Enter Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, who introduced a bill on Wednesday to restore the path for our national parks to ditch these single-use, non-biodegradable menaces that continually show up in our forests and water bodies. A tipster told EcoWatch that the "Reducing Waste in National Parks Act" (HR 3768) is the first piece of legislation put forward in Congress to address the issue of bottled water reduction in national parks.
Many hunters, anglers and other sportsmen are speaking out against the former Montana congressman over his controversial recommendation to adjust the boundaries of a "handful" of the 27 national monuments under review by the Trump administration. They worry that Zinke's move could potentially reduce land access for sport hunting and kill thousands of jobs.
Details about reduction of acreage were not made public. Utah continues to wait for the details that will outline the fate of our precious Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke will recommend unspecified boundary adjustments for a "handful" of the 27 national monuments under review by the Trump administration, according to an interview with the Associated Press.
Zinke commented that he will not ask President Trump to rescind any designations or revert sites to new ownership. Any areas removed from the protected lands would also remain under federal control and public access would remain or improve.
In April 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to review 27 parks designated since the beginning of 1996, with an eye toward shrinking boundaries and reducing protection for many of them. Shortly after, Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke opened a comment period to solicit input from the public, ostensibly to inform his recommendations about what to do with each of them.
By Thursday the Trump administration's project of dismantling the public domain will burst into full bloom when Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke announces a wholesale reversal of more than a century of public lands protection through presidential designation of national monuments under Antiquities Act of 1908.
In less than one week, Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke will submit his final recommendations to President Trump on whether 27 national monuments around the country should be downsized, eliminated, transferred to state control or left alone.
But as Aaron Weiss, the media director of the conservation group Center for Western Priorities, pointed out: "Rather than spending his final week hearing from local communities who have worked tirelessly to protect their natural and cultural heritage as national monuments, Secretary Zinke is on vacation in the Mediterranean. His wife, Lola Zinke, tweeted a picture early this morning of herself and Secretary Zinke enjoying a sunrise on the Bosphorus Strait."
By Mary Sweeters and Olivia Smith
For almost two centuries, the Interior Department has been charged with managing public lands and waters in the best interests of the American people. Emphasis on people. Somehow, President Trump's Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke missed the memo—repeatedly.
Instead of looking out for American taxpayers, Zinke is advocating for the best interests of a group he finds more profitable (and at this point, more friendly towards him): oil, gas and coal companies.