Leaked Zinke Memo Urges Trump to Shrink National Monuments, Allow Drilling

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.


Zinke's report, submitted to Trump in late August and leaked Sunday night, didn't address more than a dozen other monuments that had been under official review.

"If President Trump accepts Zinke's advice and moves to eviscerate monument protections, he'd be ignoring the law—and the will of the American people," NRDC president Rhea Suh said. The monuments in question were established in previous administrations under the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law authorizing presidents to set aside federal lands for protection.

The memo called for reductions to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, both in Utah; Cascade Siskiyou in Oregon; and Gold Butte in Nevada, but it didn't include specific recommendations for their boundary changes. He also urged change in the use and/or management of six other monuments: Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine; Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande, both in New Mexico; Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument; Pacific Remote Island Marine National Monument; and Rose Atoll Marine National Monument.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"626390","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 600px; height: 400px;","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Rock formations in Gold Butte National Monument (credit: U.S. Bureau of Land Management/Wikipedia)

Zinke also proposed opening these publicly held national monuments up to drilling, logging, commercial fishing and other activities for private profit.

Suh emphasized NRDC's commitment to keeping these cherished lands and waters safe from destruction. "We will stand up for the nearly three million people who urged the administration to protect these monuments—in court, if necessary," she said. "We will not allow these special lands and waters to be handed over to private interests for drilling, commercial fishing, logging and other extraction."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close