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 StabenowChris Evans talks NATO, Marvel secrets on Capitol Hill Overnight Health Care: Senators grill drug execs over high prices | Progressive Dems unveil Medicare for all bill | House Dems to subpoena Trump officials over family separations Senators grill drug execs over high prices MORE (D-Mich.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetMichael Bennet is close to deciding on possible presidential bid Senators ask CBO to review options for preventing surprise medical bills Court-packing becomes new litmus test on left 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 ZinkeOvernight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal investigation Acting Interior chief moves to protect access to public lands 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.