AG Ferguson pledges legal defense of Washington's national monuments

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Dugout Ranch Tuesday as part of his

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Dugout Ranch Tuesday as part of his"listening tour of national monumnets created in the last two decades

It allows Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review any designation if he determines that it was made "without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders".

Last month, Trump issued an executive order requiring the Department of Interior to review all large monuments designated by US presidents under the Antiquities Act since 1996, suggesting they may pose a barrier to energy independence.

But as Bill Hedden of the Grand Canyon Trust has pointed out, a highly public campaign addressing protection for Bears Ears began in 2011 with an effort by the Native American-led nonprofit Utah Diné Bikéyah. In fact, Bears Ears was so designated at the 11th hour of Barrack Obama's term as President, in December. There have also been reports in the news that the Administration wants to be able to open some monuments to oil and offshore drilling as well as overturn land protections. If the White House and/or Congress act to rescind them, there will nearly surely be a court battle that will take years. Zinke has 120 days from the signing of the order to report back on whether monuments should be rescinded or resized, although he will report back on Bears Ears within 45 days. While supporters say the monument protects the land, others feel the increased tourism to the area does more damage to Bears Ears than good. This is despite the fact that the land was originally privately owned and given as a gift. Over the years, Congress has elected to turn some national monuments into national parks. There needs to be predictability beyond the four-year presidential campaign cycle.

Also among the newer monuments that may be in jeopardy are the César Chávez National Monument in California, proudly honoring one of our country's most important Latino leaders; the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park that marks where a former slave helped to rescue 70 enslaved families; Stonewall National Monument, the first national park focused on LGBT history; Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument commemorating a prime hub for the women's suffrage and equal rights movements; and Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers Monument, honoring the military leadership of the first African American to reach the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army and the distinguished service of his all-black regiments. Vermilion Cliffs, Grand Canyon-Parashant and Grand Staircase-Escalante have seen little, if any, change in uses in the last two decades. But he expects to make a trip to the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.

Since President Clinton created it in 1996, Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument in Utah has been fiercely opposed by Republican Sen.

"The Giant Sequoia Monument closed thousands of acres that we used to enjoy", one unnamed commenter said. Carving out corridors for highways, power lines and mining operations defeats the objective of preserving the integrity and balance of natural areas. Teddy Roosevelt came and saw a natural wonder of the world under threat from mining and unbridled tourism. Along the way he was seeing people on both sides of the "monument" designations.

It's a speck compared with the 27 big monuments that the White House targeted for a federal review on Friday, with only one on the list smaller than 100,000 acres.

If Ryan Zinke does his homework, he will find a legacy of federal stewardship of special lands in the West that, although imperfect, is far preferable to turning them over to private enterprise by way of the states.

The Interior Secretary reiterated a talking point from Utah Senator Orrin Hatch who came under fire earlier this month for saying that, "The Indians, they don't fully understand that a lot of the things that they now take for granted on those lands, they won't be able to do if it's made clearly into a monument or a wilderness". If Zinke has a better idea than monuments and national parks, let him spell him out in detail and defend it - then conduct another listening tour that we hope last longer than 15 days.

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