Interior secretary: Maine national monument should stay in federal hands

Interior secretary: Maine national monument should stay in federal hands
© Greg Nash

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says federal ownership of a controversial national monument in Maine is “settled,” but the management of it may not be.

In a public meeting Thursday as part of his multi-day tour of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Zinke said the monument area’s management might change to allow logging and other “traditional uses.”

“I think the solutions should be made-in-Maine solutions, not made-in-Washington, D.C.,” Zinke said, according to the Portland Press Herald. “I think there are opportunities to do something different here.”

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On his trip to Maine, Zinke has met with monument opponents including Gov. Paul LePage (R) and supporters such as Lucas St. Clair, son of Roxanne Quimby, who donated the land to the federal government last year. He’s also met with other local stakeholders, both supporters and opponents.

Quimby donated the 87,000 acres in northern Maine last year after buying the land up and trying to get it designated as a national park.

Then-President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAll five living former presidents to attend hurricane relief concert Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Interior moves to delay Obama’s methane leak rule MORE turned it into a national monument, using his authority under the Antiquities Act. But numerous state and local figures oppose it, and Maine lawmakers passed legislation to push back against it before its creation.

Zinke’s tour comes as he is working to evaluate numerous recent monument designations for potential changes, under an executive order from President Trump.

Courts have not decided whether a president can eliminate or significantly reduce a previous president’s monument. But earlier this week, Zinke suggested that Trump reduce the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and said Trump does have that authority.

In addition, any designation as a national park would require congressional approval.