Almost 27 national monuments, which reside in the West, may have curtailed or eliminated protections over the next 20 years says the Interior Department.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April 2017 that stated protections imposed by three past presidents created a large federal land “grab” and that these protections should have never occurred, reports The Washington Post.
What Monuments are at Risk?
The list released on Friday and included 22 monuments located on federal land and another 11 in Western states. Some include the Grand Staircase of Escalante in Utah and the Bears Ears in Utah. The Nevada’s Basin and Range along with the Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine are too on the list.
Currently, the Interior Department is reviewing the list of protected monuments in the executive order. Trump feels that these designations of protection are an overreach of the government’s authority, says The Hill.
Designations imposed by Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton are being reversed under the new executive order issued by President Trump.
Giving Power Back to the States
He states that he is signing the order to end another abuse of federal power and that the power must go back to the states and the people in those states where the monuments reside. The monuments were protected via the Antiquities Act, which was a law established in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. The law allows presidents the authority to designate national monuments from federal property. The law does not, however, give leaders the power to undo any designations made by predecessors.
Five marine monuments in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are also up for review. The reserve in Hawaii, which was established in 2006 by President George W. Bush and expanded by President Barack Obama is one of those monuments under consideration.
Trump feels that these protections issued by past presidents have placed millions of acres of land and water under federal control, which eliminates the opportunity for people in the states to determine how that land should be used.
Over the years, the area controls have worsened, and Trump feels it is time to give the power back to the states. After all, the federal government does not stake a claim in these monuments, but residents of the states where these monuments are could better manage them.
Trump also accused President Obama of exploiting the permissions in the 1906 Antiquities Act, saying it was an abuse of President Obama’s power.
Obama had infuriated Republicans in Utah when he created the Bears Ear National Monument, which was more than one million acres of land sacred to the Native American tribes and home to more than tens of thousands of archaeological and historic sites — including cliff dwellings.
Republicans asked President Donald Trump to reverse Obama’s decision, stating that the monument designation limits the state’s growth and closes the area off from energy and commercial developments. The Antiquities Act does not specify the power of each president to undo another’s order, and no president has taken the step before Trump.
Trump’s request is under review by the Interior Department, and they will consider the provision that singles out if a monument was created or expanded due to public outreach. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is now creating an interim report over the next month to determine how to handle Utah-based monuments, and the final report must be issued within 120 days.
Zinke plans to visit Utah and the two monuments under review.
Members of the coalition of five Western Native American tribes state they are outraged at Trump’s administration and will consider a decision that was already made by his predecessor.