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Ohio Groups: National Monument Review Sets Terrible Precedent

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending to the White House that some national monuments be altered. (U.S. Department of the Interior)
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending to the White House that some national monuments be altered. (U.S. Department of the Interior)
August 28, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Some conservation and sportsman's groups in Ohio are deeply concerned about what a national monument review could mean for the future of public lands. While Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke did not suggest any of the 27 monuments under review be eliminated, he did recommend some be altered.

As a long-time sportsman in Ohio, Tom Butch contended these are precious lands that belong to the people and deserve protection.

"These are important historical areas, important archeological areas and important wildlife and fish population areas,” Butch said. "These are large areas where people need to be able to preserve for outdoor recreation in the future."

Zinke's full report to President Trump has not been made public, but he reportedly is recommending that two national monuments in Utah and one in Oregon be reduced. There is also word that Zinke is suggesting revisions to the management rules of other monuments that could change their boundaries.

It will be up to Trump to decide whether to act on those recommendations.

Frank Szollosi, Great Lakes manager with the National Wildlife Federation in Ohio, said any changes to the national monuments would deviate from decades of bipartisan respect for the conservation actions of previous presidents. And, he said President Trump would be going back on his word.

"If hunting and fishing opportunities are decreased as a result of these actions, or more mining and drilling occur, the president would be breaking his campaign promise to, and I quote, 'conserve and protect our beautiful natural resources for the next generation,’” Szollosi said.

He added Zinke's recommendations lack transparency. And he's troubled that the Interior Department rebuffed the millions of comments from people around the country, including Ohio.

"We conducted a poll that showed 83 percent of Ohioans oppose the withdrawal of protections of our public lands,” Szollosi said. "So this flies in the face of the preference of the vast majority of Ohioans and the tens of thousands who commented during this unprecedented review of these national monuments."

If the president proceeds with Zinke's recommendations, Szollosi said he expects lengthy legal battles will ensue.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH