Tree cutting in Katahdin Monument has Zinke's support

Underwater scene in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Image courtesy of Greg McFall

Clair, whose family donated the 87,500-acre parcel to the National Park Service past year, said he was "still waiting for the details" on the recommendations after language from Zinke's closely guarded recommendations to President Trump were leaked.

Zinke's recommendations were revealed in a leaked memo submitted to the White House. The other monuments Zinke is proposing to shrink include Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, which together encompass 3.2 million acres. Under federal law, the National Park Service is barred from commercial timber harvesting but is allowed to cut trees "to control the attacks of insects or diseases or otherwise conserve the scenery or the natural or historic objects" in parks or monuments.

Two marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean also would be reduced under Zinke's memo, and a third monument off the MA coast would be modified to allow commercial fishing.

They are not as protected as U.S. national parks, but some have limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as off-road vehicles.

Most of those that are under review, after Trump complained too much land was locked up in the protected spaces, were created by his Democratic predecessors Barack Obama or Bill Clinton.

The monuments under review were designated by four presidents over the last two decades.

National monuments can be so designated through the power of the Antiquities Act of 1906. The recommendations urged Trump to amend monument proclamations "to protect objects and prioritize public access; infrastructure upgrades, fix and maintenance; traditional use; tribal cultural use; and hunting and fishing rights".

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.

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By contrast, Zinke's memorandum discussed creating three new national monuments.

The view from Comb Ridge is pictured in Utah's Bears Ears area of the Four Corners Region, Utah, U.S., December 18, 2016.

As instructed by Trump, Zinke released an interim report in June on the Bears Ears National Monument, recommending the administration significantly reduce the size of the monument.

The president could also send the recommendations to Congress and request that lawmakers make the adjustments.

Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society, said the recommendations apparently made by Zinke "represent an unprecedented assault on our parks and public lands" by the Trump administration.

"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", the Wilderness Society said late Sunday. Williams also promised to battle "these illegal and risky recommendations" in court, if Trump acts on them.

The Natural Resources Defense Council believes the Trump administration is using a classic negotiating tactic in its review of national monuments: threatening the worst and spinning the ultimate outcome, however outrageous, as a reasonable result.

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