WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that President Trump scale back four more national monuments — two on land and two in the Pacific — and make modifications to at least four more, continuing an unprecedented blitz of presidential action to ease restriction on public lands.
The additional recommendations come the day after Trump signed proclamations rolling back two national monuments in southern Utah: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
Next, Zinke is recommending that Trump reduce the size of Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California, Gold Butte in Nevada.
"The Interior's position is that public lands are for public use, not special interests," Zinke told reporters Tuesday.
The review of more than two dozen national monuments came after Trump signed an executive order in April looking back at major monuments created or expanded over the last two decades.
For Cascade-Siskiyou and Gold Butte, Zinke wants to reduce the size of the monuments — although he didn't specify by how much. Cascade-Siskiyou surrounds a number of privately owned lands, and Zinke also wants to open up more areas for timber harvesting. At Gold Butte, the issue is water rights for the city of Mesquite, Nev.
Zinke also recommends boundary changes to two marine national monuments: the Pacific Remote Islands and the Rose Atoll, which together protect more than 322 million acres. Those moves could ultimately lead to more commercial fishing.
On many other monuments, Zinke didn't recommend boundary changes. But he did ask for a number of other modifications, including:
► Katahdin Woods and Waters, a 87,500-acre monument in Maine created by President Obama last year. Zinke wants to reopen the area to timber harvesting.
► Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, a 3.1 million-acre monument off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. created by Obama last year. Zinke recommends that the monument be reopened to "well regulated commercial fishing."
► Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, a 496,529-acre monument in New Mexico created by Obama in 2014. Zinke noted that the area is close to the Mexican border and said it's been used as a drug smuggling route. Zinke said the administration should consult with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense about possible changes.
► Rio Grande Del Norte, a quarter million-acre monument in New Mexico created by Obama in 2013. Zinke said the administration should invest in infrastructure to allow more grazing in the area.
Monday's actions have already been the target of at least two federal lawsuits. Ten environmental groups are challenging the Trump's shrinking of Grand Staircase-Escalante, and five American Indian tribes have filed suit seeking to block the Bears Ears proclamation.
The outdoor clothing company Patagonia has also threatened to sue. The company protested Trump's actions Monday by briefly replacing its online homepage with the message, "The president stole your land."
"Not one square inch was stolen," Zinke said Tuesday, noting that the proclamation did not transfer any federally owned land. "I think it’s shameful and appalling to blatantly lie in order to get money in their coffers."
Patagonia, he said, was a "special interest" that makes its clothing in China.
Zinke did open the door to creating new national monuments. One possibility he specifically cited was Camp Nelson, an 1863 Union Army supply depot in Kentucky. The 4,000 acre site served as the third largest recruitment and training center for African-American regiments during the Civil War.
Beautiful national monuments around the USA