Thursday, April 27, 2017

Trump's "review" is a threat to our national monuments

An impending disaster headed toward our national monuments in the form of a “review” ordered by President Trump.

The Daily Star carries the AP report on how Trump’s Monument review includes oceans, tribal lands and Sequoias. Here are some examples of what I suspect are on the chopping block.

GIANT SEQUOIA NATIONAL MONUMENT-CALIFORNIA

In a decision praised by environmentalists but scorned by loggers, President Bill Clinton created this monument in 2000 covering about 328,000 acres of land in central California where the giant sequoia grows naturally. It expanded the number of groves protected, adding to Sequoias already safeguarded in Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Park.

A coalition of timber interest groups, recreation groups and a California county sued to reverse the designation or reduce the size. They argued that the trees were already protected and that the county’s school districts depended on money that came from fees collected for logging. A federal judge dismissed that lawsuit.

In 2006, a federal judge rejected a plan by the Bush administration plan to allow commercial logging inside the monument.

PAPAHANAUMOKUAKEA MARINE NATIONAL MONUMENT-HAWAII

This remote monument northwest of Hawaii’s main islands was created by President George W. Bush in 2006 and was quadrupled in size last year by President Barack Obama. The nearly 583,000-square mile safe zone for tuna, the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and thousands of other species is the world’s largest marine protected area, more than twice the size of Texas.

Obama pointed to the zone’s diverse ecology and cultural significance to Native Hawaiian and early Polynesian culture as reasons for expanding the monument when he visited the turquoise waters last fall. “I look forward to knowing that 20 years from now, 40 years from now, 100 years from now, this is a place where people can still come to and see what a place like this looks like when it’s not overcrowded and destroyed by human populations,” Obama said.

The decision to expand the monument was the subject of fierce debate within Hawaii, with both sides invoking Native Hawaiian culture to argue why it should or shouldn’t be expanded.

The monument designation bans commercial fishing and any new mining. Fishing will be allowed through a permit, as will be scientific research and the removal.

Opponents argued the region is heavily dependent on fishing and can’t afford the hit, adding that a federal ban would infringe on the traditions that ancient Hawaiians used to protect natural resources.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is due to make a recommendation on Bears Ears [national monument in Utah] within 45 days ahead of a final report about all the monuments within 120 days.

I think I could write the final report now given Trump’s aversion to regulations of any sort - except those he likes.

If the Utah Republicans get their way, the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante monuments will be opened up to “new energy development” including mining of coal.

Get out and enjoy our parks and national monuments while you can. You might have just four months to do it.

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