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Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West

Dept. of INTERIOR, Federal gov & land grabs, Zinke - DOI Sec 2017

PNP comment: This is unexpectedly great news!!! — Editor Liz Bowen

Matthew Daly, Associated Press

Associated Press•September 18, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that four large national monuments in the West be reduced in size, potentially opening up hundreds of thousands of acres of land revered for natural beauty and historical significance to mining, logging and other development.

Zinke’s recommendation, revealed in a leaked memo submitted to the White House, prompted an outcry from environmental groups who promised to take the Trump administration to court to block the moves.

Related SearchesInterior Secretary Ryan ZinkeSecretary Of The InteriorDepartment Of Interior

The Interior secretary’s plan would scale back two huge Utah monuments — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — along with Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou. The monuments encompass more than 3.6 million acres — an area larger than Connecticut — and were created by Democratic administrations under a century-old law that allows presidents to protect sites considered historic, geographically or culturally important.

Zinke’s plan also would allow logging at a newly designated monument in Maine and urges more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico. It also calls for a new assessment of border-safety risks at a monument in southern New Mexico.

Bears Ears, designated for federal protection by former President Barack Obama, totals 1.3 million acres in southeastern Utah on land that is sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings. Grand Staircase-Escalante, in southern Utah, includes nearly 1.9 million acres in a sweeping vista larger than the state of Delaware. Republicans have howled over the monument since its creation in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton.

Cascade-Siskiyou, which juts into Northern California, protects about 113,000 acres in an area where three mountain ranges converge, while Gold Butte protects nearly 300,000 acres of desert landscapes that feature rock art, sandstone towers and wildlife habitat for bighorn sheep and the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the 19-page memo, which was submitted to the White House last month and has not been officially released.

Two marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean also would be reduced under Zinke’s memo, and a third monument off the Massachusetts coast would be modified to allow commercial fishing. Commercial fishing also would be allowed at two Pacific sites, west of Hawaii and near American Samoa.

President Donald Trump ordered a review of 27 sites earlier this year after complaining about a “massive land grab” by Obama and other former presidents.

FILE – This May 23, 2016, file photo, shows the northernmost boundary of the proposed Bears Ears region, along the Colorado River, in southeastern Utah. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that six of 27 national monuments under review by the Trump administration be reduced in size, along with management changes to several other sites. A leaked memo from Zinke to President Donald Trump recommends that two Utah monuments — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante — be reduced, along with Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, File)


“It’s gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we’re going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place. This should never have happened,” Trump said in ordering the review in April.

National monument designations add protections for lands known for their natural beauty with the goal of preserving them for future generations. The restrictions aren’t as stringent as for national parks, but include limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as riding off-road vehicles.

No president has tried to eliminate a monument, but boundaries have been trimmed or redrawn 18 times, according to the National Park Service.

Zinke’s recommendations to pare down the four Western monuments — and allow more economic activity at three other sites — “represent an unprecedented assault on our parks and public lands” by the Trump administration, said Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society.

“This callous proposal will needlessly punish local, predominantly rural communities that depend on parks and public lands for outdoor recreation, sustainable jobs and economic growth,” Williams said, vowing to challenge in court any actions by the Trump administration to reduce the size of national monuments.

It was not clear from the memo how much energy development would be allowed on the sites recommended for changes, but Zinke said in the report that “traditional uses of the land such as grazing, timber production, mining, fishing, hunting, recreation and other cultural uses are unnecessarily restricted.”

Those restrictions especially harm rural communities in western states that have traditionally benefited from grazing, mining and logging, said Zinke, a former Montana congressman.

“Zinke claims to follow Teddy Roosevelt, but he’s engineering the largest rollback of public land protection in American history,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, another environmental group.

A spokeswoman for Zinke referred questions to the White House, which said in a statement that it does not comment on leaked documents.

If Trump adopts the recommendations, it would quiet some of the worst fears of his opponents, who warned that vast public lands and marine areas could be lost to states or private interests.

But significant reductions in the size of the monuments, especially those created by Obama, would mark the latest in a string of actions where Trump has sought to erode his Democratic predecessor’s legacy.

The recommendations cap an unprecedented four-month review based on Trump’s claim that 1906 Antiquities Act has been misused by recent presidents to create oversized monuments that hinder energy development, grazing and other uses.

By sealing off more than 3 million acres in solidly Republican Utah, Obama and Clinton hurt local economies in rural areas that depend on logging and ranching, said Matt Anderson of the conservative Sutherland Institute.

“It begs the question: Are these expansions more about ulterior motives like climate change, presidential legacies, corporate interests like outdoor recreation companies, or are they about antiquities?” Anderson asked.


Associated Press writers Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City and Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, N.M., contributed to this story.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Zinke ‘Wildland Fire Directive’ emphasizes fuels reduction

Federal gov & land grabs, FIRES, Forestry & USFS, Zinke - DOI Sec 2017

Free Range Report

September 14, 2017

This year-to-date, 47,700 wildfires have burned 8 million acres across the country, with the majority of the devastation in the states of California and Montana. High-profile fires in Yosemite and Glacier National Parks have caught national headlines, however millions of acres of forest and grassland have burned in recent months.

Information available on the Department of Interior website, posted by Marjorie Haun

The Interior Department issued a press release on September 12 in response to this year’s catastrophic–and ongoing–wildfire season. Secretary Ryan Zinke emphasizes the Trump Administration’s ‘turn from the past’ from politically-driven policies to proactive wildfire management which will include more ‘aggressive’ fuel reduction efforts. Secretary Zinke also noted that the ‘new normal’ attitude within some federal agencies and the environmentalist movement that ‘it’s better to let them burn’ is unacceptable, and that new solutions for public lands management are needed to reverse the trend of increasingly large and destructive wildfires. Noting that in 2017, iconic national parks have been dramatically impacted, the press release states:

This year-to-date, 47,700 wildfires have burned 8 million acres across the country, with the majority of the devastation in the states of California and Montana. High-profile fires in Yosemite and Glacier National Parks have caught national headlines, however millions of acres of forest and grassland have burned in recent months.

For several decades, forests and other federally-managed lands have suffered due to obstructionist litigation, primarily brought by environmentalist groups which have halted logging and clearing projects. Although some of those projects have been commercial, others have been for wildfire mitigation. But in many instances, timber sales as well as clearing projects were stopped in the courts, with the premise that critical wildlife habitat, or watersheds would be endangered. Federal permitting processes have also complicated and delayed fuels-reduction efforts. Comments from wildfire experts and elected leaders echoing Zinke’s philosophical change of direction are included in the DoI’s announcement:

•Bryan Rice, Director of the Office of Wildland Fire: “It is critical to fully consider the benefits of fuels reduction in the everyday management activities that we carry out for our public land management objectives, such as clearing along roadsides, around visitor use areas like campgrounds and trails, near employee housing areas, and within administrative site areas subject to wildfire.”

•Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee: “Treating our landscapes mitigates wildfire risk, increases firefighter safety, and makes our forests and rangelands healthy and resilient. We can no longer delay the implementation of this important work.”

House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop: “We must ensure our land management agencies have the tools and resources they need to protect communities and landscapes from catastrophic wildfire. Over the long term, Congress and the Administration must work together to reverse the sorry state of our federal forests and grasslands…”

Montana Senator Steve Daines: “If we don’t start managing our forests, the forests are going to start managing us…”

Idaho Senator James Risch: “I applaud Secretary Zinke’s effort to thin the threat. If we can reduce the fuel loads in our forests and rangelands we will provide our fire fighters more defensible space to do their jobs. We need bold actions like this not just for the hurricanes in the south and east but also to avert the devastation caused by the wildfires in the west.”

Below are highlights from Secretary Zinke’s Wildland Fire Directive:

•Federal agencies will increase coordination with state and local partners, including local fire chiefs and county officials.

•Accumulated vegetation increases fuel loads and leads to larger, hotter fires. Fuels reduction management will be integrated into all public lands management.

•National parks, refuge, and district managers need to address wildfire threats early in the season, incorporating fuels reduction into resource management planning.

•A key strategy in protecting landscapes, communities, structures, vistas, historic objects, visitors centers, citizens and firefighters across all jurisdictions, will be to address vegetation composition and structure, and alter fuel loads to reduce hazards.

•All public lands management activities will address the threat of fire, and all managers, not only fire staff, will participate. “Where dead and dying trees have become hazards that can carry fire across our boundaries or into areas that are a threat to values-at-risk, we must move aggressively to minimize that threat.”

•If necessary, fuels reduction projects will be contracted out to private sector companies.

•Encroaching and overgrown vegetation along roadsides and in ditches will be cleared.

•Department level managers will review and identify resources needs and data gaps, and will bring fire management plans up to date to “include the identified needs for a robust fuels management program…”

•”I ask you to do the following: 1) use our existing policies more aggressively; 2) think differently about how those policies may be applied; 3) look for opportunities to partner with adjacent agencies, state and local governments, tribes, and private landowners to maximize resources; 4) look carefully at your existing management plans and ask if you are doing all you can today to address the threats of tomorrow; and 5) ensure that our landscapes are restored and maintained to meet our mission.”

•’Business as usual’ is unrealistic in public lands management. “We must do everything we can to address the steady accumulation of fuels on our Nation’s public lands and the resulting increased threats from catastrophic wildfires.”

The axiom, ‘Log it, graze it, or watch it burn,’ is basic to wildfire management. Logging and thinning of trees, and livestock grazing, though controversial to some, are increasingly accepted as essential to healthy forests and vibrant public lands. With records being set each year in the numbers of acres burned, intensity, and economic and human costs of wildfires on America’s public lands, this serious-minded change in strategy by the Interior and Agriculture Departments, could mean that in the near future, dangerous trends in wildfire activity will be reversed.

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Interior Head To Stop In The Bundy Family’s Nevada Hometown

Bundy Battle - Nevada, Bureau of Land Management, Federal gov & land grabs, Zinke - DOI Sec 2017


by Ken Ritter and Scott Sonner AP

| July 30, 2017 1:49 p.m. | Las Vegas

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was expected to make a stop Sunday in the hometown of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher accused of organizing an armed standoff three years ago that forced federal agents to end a roundup of his cattle.

Zinke’s planned stop in Bunkerville, Nevada — about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas — is part of his tour of national monuments being scrutinized by the Trump administration.

Trump announced the review of 27 monuments in May, saying the designations imposed by previous presidents amounted to a massive federal land grab. Monument designations protect federal land from energy development and other activities.

Zinke plans the stop in Bunkerville ahead of visits Monday to the nearby Gold Butte and Basin and Range national monuments, which cover a combined 1,500 square miles — more than twice the size of Delaware.


Retrial Set For Defendants In Bundy Standoff Case In Nevada

Gold Butte is the grazing area at the center of the cattle round-up and armed standoff in April 2014 involving Bundy and federal land management agents.

The monument is home to pioneer-era and Native American artifacts, and rare and threatened wildlife, including the Mojave desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep.

A recent study by the Bureau of Land Management documented nearly 400 ancient rock art panels and more than 3,500 individual petroglyphs scattered throughout the Gold Butte area

President Obama designated the Gold Butte National Monument in 2016 under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Bundy argues that the federal government has no jurisdiction in such vast rangelands of the West.

He and four of his sons are in jail awaiting federal trial on felony charges that they organized an armed insurrection to turn away Bureau of Land Management agents and contract cowboys and to release cattle collected from the Gold Butte range.


An Occupation In Eastern Oregon

Ongoing coverage of the federal case against the people involved in the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and how life has changed in Harney County, Oregon.

Federal officials say the bureau, an agency within the Interior Department, was trying to enforce court orders issued for Bundy’s years-long failure to pay federal grazing fees.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat, recently made a two-minute videotape and Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democrat running for Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s seat in 2018, sent a letter to Zinke urging him to keep his hands off Nevada’s natural treasures.

In addition to preserving cultural history, native wildlife and scenic beauty, Gold Butte and Basin and Range generate more than $150 million annually for Nevada’s economy, they said.



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Oregon Cattlemen’s Association applauds Secretary Zinke for touring Siskiyou National Monument

cattle, Dept. of INTERIOR, Federal gov & land grabs, Zinke - DOI Sec 2017

July 17, 2017

Oregon Cattlemen’s Association

Secretary Of The Interior Ryan Zinke, “Glad To Be Back In Oregon” For Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Review

Announcing on twitter that he was “Glad to be back in Oregon! Here for a monument review…” the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association applauds Secretary Zinke for touring with OCA President John O’Keeffe and for hearing both sides of the issues of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

On April 26th, President Trump signed an Executive Order for the review of monument designations made under the Antiquities Act by previous Presidents. As many Oregon ranchers hoped, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, as designated by President Trump, made a trip to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument on July 15th, 2017, where he conducted a thorough and precise preview.

“Secretary Zinke’s trip to the Cascade-Siskiyou monument area is encouraging for all-natural resource industries,” said Jerome Rosa, OCA Executive Director. “The gross misuse of the Antiquities Act by prior administration will hopefully be overturned.”

Secretary Zinke met with members of Oregon’s Bureau of Land Management where he hiked through the monument, hearing all sides for his report. Meeting with various other industries such as the snowmobile industry, the timber industry and the ranching industry, it is reassuring that his attention to detail is precise to find the true impacts that a monument of this size can cause to the economy of our state.

OCA President John O’Keeffe spent the afternoon with Secretary Zinke and a few select others which included Lee Bradshaw, a rancher within the allotment, and Representative Greg Walden. O’Keeffe commended Secretary Zinke for the quality questions that he asked and his genuine concerns for all parties involved.

“He seems to be really interested and generally concerned with the issues that the monument raises,” said John O’Keeffe.

Overall, the monument review seemed to go well but there was no indication as to a timeline for what comes next or what Secretary Zinke’s final verdict will be. For now, the cattle ranchers will continue to wait. However, we are hopeful that, after researching and hearing about the negative impacts the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument has had on outdoor enthusiasts, ranchers, and timber industries alike, that the right decision will be made.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Zinke To Visit Oregon For Cascade-Siskiyou Monument Review

Dept. of INTERIOR, Federal gov & land grabs, Zinke - DOI Sec 2017

by OPB Staff OPB

| July 14, 2017 12:14 p.m. | Updated: July 14, 2017 2:29 p.m.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be in Oregon to review the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument this weekend.


Oregon AG Threatens Legal Action To Protect Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

The Interior Department confirmed the visit Friday.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is scheduled to meet with Zinke during his visit Sunday.

Zinke’s review is in accordance with President Donald Trump’s executive order to review the status and size of national monuments across the country.

President Obama invoked the Antiquities Act to expand the monument in southern Oregon by nearly 50,000 acres during his final days in office.

Earlier this week, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced her intent to sue the Trump administration should Zinke suggest the monument be reduced in size.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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GOP: eliminate 10 national monuments & shrink 13 more

Dept. of INTERIOR, Federal gov & land grabs, Zinke - DOI Sec 2017
  • PNP comment:  This is great news!!!! — Editor Liz Bowen

  • Published on July 7th, 2017

red blue and green.org

As the nation prepared for the holiday weekend last Friday, 17 tea party Republicans—members of the Congressional Western Caucus—sent a letter to secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke asking that he downsize or eliminate 27 national monuments across the western United States.

By Meteor Blades Bears Ears, one of 27 national monuments GOP want to shrink or eliminate

Although the Western Caucus is theoretically open to anyone in Congress, all 70 members are Republicans, including some of the most extremist representatives in the government.

Zinke, himself a member of the caucus before he was appointed to head Interior earlier this year, is in the midst of a contentious 120-day review of national monuments, with an eye toward reducing their acreage or rescinding their presidential designation as monuments. The review was undertaken under Pr*sident Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13972.

In a thin interim report released in mid-June, Zinke showed clearly where he is headed in the review with his recommendation to cut the size of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, but he did not suggest how many acres should be removed. That plan will presumably be included in the final report due in late August. From Utah to Maine, Zinke has recently been traveling to several monuments.

National monuments on the chopping block

The 27 national monuments under review were all designated since 1996 by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations under the 1906 Antiquities Act, a total of 773.8 million acres. The act was passed at a time when there was a free-for-all in extraction and development on public lands. It saved the Grand Canyon from plunder. The real target of the Zinke review and the Western Caucus members recommendations, however, is the lands President Obama protected during his eight years in office: 553.4 million acres. Most of that land—465 million acres—was added by Obama to existing monuments designated by previous presidents.

In their letter, the tea partiers recommend rescission of monument designations for:

Bears Ears
Bears Ears National MonumentBerryessa Snow Mountain
Cascade Siskiyou
Grand Canyon-Parashant
Grand Staircase-Escalante
Ironwood Forest
Kathahdin Woods and Waters
Sonoran Desert
Vermillion Cliffs
Northeast Canyons and Seamounts.

They also seek to greatly shrink other national monuments. For example, they recommend reducing the Basin and Range National Monument in southeastern Nevada from 704,000 acres to “approximately 2,500 acres.”

Foaming at the mouth

Environmental advocates have pointed out that the downsizing or rescission of Bears Ears and other national monuments that Zinke appears likely to propose in his final report will collide with court precedent and the Federal Land Management and Policy Act of 1976. That law restricts the secretary’s and the president’s authority to reduce the size of monuments or rescind them, putting such decisions firmly in the hands of Congress.

At the Western Caucus website, a headline on the press release detailing the tea partiers’ letter to Zinke called it “thoughtful.” Here’s the kind of thought that appears in it:

“It speaks volumes that of the 27 monuments and 773.8 million acres currently under review, 14 monuments and more than 553.4 million acres were designated by the Obama Administration,” said Chairman [Paul] Gosar [of Arizona]. “With the stroke of a pen and the blind support of out-of-state extremist groups foaming at the mouth to lock up lands to serve their own agenda, President Obama trampled the will of the people and ignored the wisdom of local stakeholders. I am pleased to have been joined by my colleagues in sending this letter that helps give a voice to those who were often silenced over the last 20 years and provide helpful insight to Secretary Zinke as he conducts his review.” […]

“The Obama Administration abused the Antiquities Act more than any President in our nation’s history. In California and in other western states, federal land grabs have infringed on private property, made it more difficult for the federal government to manage the land, and decreased public access.  I fully support the review of these monument designations by the Department of Interior to determine where adjustment is necessary – such as the Cascade Siskiyou Monument, which was expanded against the wishes of every county in the region. Eventually, we must reform the Antiquities act altogether to ensure that any federal land expansion occurs only with the support of Congress and those who live and work in the area,” said Congressman [Doug] LaMalfa [of California].

Corporate “rebels”

Ultimately, what this is all about is no different than when the so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” began in the mid-’70s. It’s an attempt to transfer federal acreage to the states, which then may sell it outright, or keep it public but approve extraction and development projects that change the basic character of the land.

Congresspeople and others who make the argument typically call for giving great swaths of land “back” to the states. In fact, it was never theirs to begin with, and no promises were made when they became states to transfer federal land to them.

At the front of the queue if any decision were made to “return” the land would be the Native peoples who had it stolen from them in the first place—mostly at actual or implicit gunpoint.

(Originally appeared at DailyKos. Image CC by BLM.)

GOP: eliminate 10 national monuments & shrink 13 more

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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