Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke sent his 120-day review on the national monuments to President Donald Trump on Thursday. Trump, who believes the Obama Administration abused the Antiquities Act and wants to reduce the amount of federally protected land by giving monuments back to the states to preserve, is mulling over Zinke’s review that recommends quite the opposite.
“The recommendations I sent to the president on national monuments will maintain federal ownership of all federal land and protect the land under federal environmental regulations, and also provide a much-needed change for the local communities who border and rely on these lands for hunting and fishing, economic development, traditional uses, and recreation,” Zinke said in a statement.
In April, the Department of Interior was given orders by the President to review land designations under the Antiquities Act and assess possible reductions to 27 national monuments. The Antiquities Act was passed in 1906 and gives the president the power to preserve and designate national lands and monuments. In contrast, Sec. Zinke recommended keeping all 265 million acres worth of land.
He instead encouraged the administration to enforce stricter management and changes to the federal properties boundaries, a top concern for the secretary was that some of the national parks had unclear boundaries and private property, and housed are actually built on parts of the federally owned land.
From his meetings with community members and local officials in the evaluated areas, Zinke said most everyone was in support of the lands remaining as they are, and fear if they were returned to the state that they would not be kept to such a high standard or destroyed or sold.
Those in opposition explained their frustration with the management of the lands, citing restrictions on hunting and fishing, and the managers encouraging private landowners who adjacent to the federal property to move and sell their land. Zinke said that management at these properties has a lot to change but did not outline a plan for those changes.