Democrats to Trump: Ask Forest Service before shrinking monuments

Democrats to Trump: Ask Forest Service before shrinking monuments
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Two Senate Democrats want President Trump to explain why he plans to shrink some national monuments without getting the U.S. Forest Service’s recommendation to do so first.

In a letter to Trump on Friday, Sens. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowLobbying world The Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments Dem senator: Kavanaugh sides with 'wealthiest special interests' MORE (D-Mich.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHarley stunner spikes tension with Trump over trade policy Races to watch in Tuesday’s primaries Democrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor MORE (D-Colo.) questioned why he would move forward with shrinking some monuments containing Forest Service land despite the department’s lack of a recommendation for doing so.

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Trump is expected to announce his plan to shrink at least two national monuments in Utah on Monday. One of the monuments, the 1.3-million acre Bears Ears, contains some Forest Service land.

“In advance of any decision to attempt to modify the boundaries of national monuments, we write to seek specific details regarding your plans for treatment of certain acres within five national monuments that are managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service,” the Democrats wrote.

President Trump tasked the Interior Department with assessing potential changes to large national monument designations. Both Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeInterior fast tracks study of drilling's Arctic impact: report Zinke left some details off public calendar: report House completes first half of 2019 spending bills MORE and Trump have said they support cutting the acreage of the Bears Ears monument, which then-President Obama designated during his last month in office.

Four California monuments that are subject to Interior’s review also have Forest Service acreage within their borders.

But Stabenow and Bennet said the Forest Service, which is part of the USDA, did not specifically recommend Trump trim any of the monuments. An agency official told lawmakers earlier this year that, “no specific acres were recommended for removal.”

Conservationists deeply oppose Trump’s monuments review and have vowed to sue over any attempt to shrink monuments. Conservatives, though, say the review could fix what they consider overreach in the government’s management of federal lands.