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Applause, criticism greet leak of Zinke's monument recommendations

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Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune The two buttes that make up the namesake for the Bears Ears National Monument reveal the vast landscape surrounding them as part of the 1.35 million acres in southeastern Utah protected by President Barack Obama

"The president does not have the legal authority to change national monument designations, and we're prepared to take legal action to defend them".

His recommendations including "active timber management" are included in a memo to President Donald Trump, who will have the final say. Two marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean would also be reduced.

An aerial photo of Tramp Ridge in Gold Butte National Monument on Friday, July 21, 2017.

The interior secretary advised that Trump "amend the existing proclamations to protect objects and prioritize public access; infrastructure upgrades, fix and maintenance; traditional use; tribal cultural use; and hunting and fishing rights". Cascade-Siskiyou is mostly in southern OR, on national forest and BLM land near Ashland, but about 5,000 acres extends into Siskiyou County, California.

"He's being true to his word", Assemblyman Chris Edwards (R-District 19) said. Gold Butte is the name for both a mountain peak and nearby ghost town in the eastern hook of Clark County. Trump has no authority to make any of the changes that Zinke's recommending.

Edwards was with Zinke while the secretary toured Gold Butte, and said the list of suggestions shows Zinke listened to locals.

But not everybody shares that view.

"This complete lack of transparency is appalling and it demonstrates the arbitrary nature of Zinke's review", said Linda Castro, Assistant Policy Director for the California Wilderness Coalition, in a statement Monday.

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During the seven years since its adoption, the Carrizo Plain management plan has served as a valuable tool to manage the monument, and enjoys universal support amongst various stakeholders including oil companies, livestock operators, Native American tribes, land management agencies, conservation organizations, and the public - all of which are represented on the Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee which has helped manage the monument since its designation.

"To view public lands as the piggy bank that can be cracked to solve that problem", Pedery said, "It's just a sad commentary on where things are".

"You can't pick and choose what laws you want to follow when it comes to public lands management", Pedery said, "The idea that we're going to fund county government through essentially strip-mining public lands sounds absurd to people who moved to OR because of our natural amenities". "A lot of Nevadans, a majority of Nevadans, have asked for this land to be protected for decades, and now they're proposing rejections to what was protected so we're angry".

Cascade-Siskiyou, which juts into Northern California, protects about 113,000 acres in an area where three mountain ranges converge, while Gold Butte protects almost 300,000 acres of desert landscapes that feature rock art, sandstone towers and wildlife habitat for bighorn sheep and the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise. In 2015, 85 scientists concerned about increasing threats to the area signed a letter urging monument expansion to better protect and connect important habitats for the monument's spectacular variety of plants and animals "whose survival in the region", according the monument's original proclamation, "depends upon its continued ecological integrity". He also raised concerns about private property rights, noting that the monument surrounds large areas of state and private lands.

Grand Staircase has been a source of ire for local officials and Republican leaders for more than two decades amid complaints that its 1996 designation as a monument by former President Bill Clinton closed off too much land to development.

And a lot of people do cherish national monuments.

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