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Groups Slam Official Recommendation to Shrink Gold Butte

A new report from the federal government says the Gold Butte National Monument management plan should be modified to allow more grazing and motorized access and uphold water rights. (Friends of Gold Butte)
A new report from the federal government says the Gold Butte National Monument management plan should be modified to allow more grazing and motorized access and uphold water rights. (Friends of Gold Butte)
December 6, 2017

MESQUITE, Nev. – Conservation groups are speaking out, calling the Trump administration's move against Gold Butte part of the largest public lands attack in history.

On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released his final report reviewing 26 national monuments, and recommended that Gold Butte's acreage be cut, but left the specifics up to the president.

Brian Beffort, director of the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter, says he's very frustrated with the decision that favors grazing and motorized access over environmental protection.

"Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration have been very clear about who they favor, and it's the extractive industries, not the public or the tribes,” Beffort states. “This administration has been working around the clock to sell out America's public lands, and I think it's deeply unpopular and un-American."

During the two-month public comment period, the federal government received more than 2.8 million responses with 98 percent in favor of keeping the monuments intact or expanding them.

However, in his report, Zinke dismissed it as a campaign orchestrated by environmental groups.

Jaina Moan, executive director of the Friends of Gold Butte, says those groups represent thousands of Nevadans, and maintains it's chilling that, even before the report came out, President Donald Trump announced that he's drastically slashing two monuments in Utah.

"The president already took action on the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, so we sure hope that Gold Butte is not next on his hit list," she states.

Thomas Tait, former CEO of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, says he hopes Trump takes into account the financial benefits national monuments bring.

"Last year, the city of Mesquite realized $2.7 million in economic activity as a direct result of Gold Butte,” Tait points out. “Southern Nevada public lands are providing 78,000 jobs and $13.4 billion in economic resources.”

Multiple groups have vowed to sue the Trump administration, saying the Antiquities Act gives presidents the ability to create national monuments but not to shrink them.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV