Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill MORE said Thursday he's asking President Trump to shrink “a handful” of national monuments that previous presidents designated to protect land and water.
In a formal report he’s sending to Trump on Thursday, Zinke will not ask the president to eliminate any of the 27 protected areas that were under review since an April executive order, he told The Associated Press.
He did not specify the changes he is recommending in the AP interview. But he said any areas removed from national monuments would remain under federal control and public access would either stay the same or improve.
Zinke said it’s important to keep areas protected when they warrant it.
“There’s an expectation we need to look out 100 years from now to keep the public land experience alive in this country,” Zinke told the AP. “You can protect the monument by keeping public access to traditional uses.”
Previous presidents created the monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act and were frequently met with opposition from certain industries and some locals.
While presidents have shrunk monuments created by their predecessors, no court has decided whether that is allowed under the law.
Conservationists say that since the law doesn’t specifically give that authority, Trump cannot alter monuments. But Trump’s supporters say that authority is implied.
Zinke previously stated that he wants to remove some areas of Bears Ears from protection.
Citing a source familiar with the decision, the Bangor Daily News reported Thursday that Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, created last year by Obama from land donated by a philanthropist, would be slated to remain completely intact under Zinke’s recommendations.
That is in contrast to what Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), a close Trump ally, had pushed for, which was to completely undo the designation. Maine’s legislature also passed a resolution last year opposing the monument.
Zinke has also in recent weeks announced six other monuments that he would recommend be kept intact completely.
— This story was updated at 12:40 p.m.