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 StabenowACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Democrats warn Biden against releasing SCOTUS list MORE (D-Mich.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHow Congress is preventing a Medicare bankruptcy during COVID-19 Tom Cotton rips NY Times for Chinese scientist op-ed criticizing US coronavirus response Our national forests need protection — and Congress can help 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 ZinkeTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog 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.