President Trump's Plan for National Monuments

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"He carved the path of putting under federal protection millions of acres and and beginning our experience of our public lands, unique to the US", he told the Examiner.

National monument designations add protections for lands known for their natural beauty with the goal of preserving them for future generations. "If President Trump acts in support of these recommendations, The Wilderness Society will move swiftly to challenge those actions in court".

The memo called for reductions to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, both in Utah; Cascade Siskiyou in OR; and Gold Butte in Nevada, but it didn't include specific recommendations for their boundary changes. The monuments encompass more than 3.6 million acres - an area larger than CT - and were created by Democratic administrations under a century-old law that allows presidents to protect sites considered historic, geographically or culturally important. "This should never have happened", Trump said in ordering the review in April.

A four-month review was ordered by Mr Trump earlier this year after he complained the monuments were "land grabs" by former presidents, including Barack Obama.

Energy, mining, ranching and timber industries have cheered the review, while conservation groups and the outdoor recreation industry threatened lawsuits over what they see as an effort to undo protections of critical natural and cultural resources.

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 represent the largest attack on "protected public lands" in USA history and "would open up huge swaths of protected lands to drilling and mining speculators and other special interests", League of Conservation Voters president Gene Karpinski said Monday in a statement.

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In the report, Zinke also recommended changes in uses or management of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in ME; the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, off New England; the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico; and the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument in New Mexico.

In June, Zinke told reporters he had recommended shrinking the Bears Ears monument, the country's newest monument, and last month he sent his recommendations to the Republican president after reviewing more than two dozen national monuments.

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

The White House said the administration is still considering the recommendations in a memo summarizing Zinke's review, which was completed in August.

If the president adopts the recommendations, it would ease 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. "We believe the Trump administration has no legal authority to alter or erase protections for national treasures".

Among the most controversial proposed changes are to two massive monuments in Utah that together total more than 3.2 million acres.

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