Grijalva: If Trump Order on Monuments is About Public Engagement, When Does Secretary Zinke’s Nationwide Listening Tour Begin?

Washington, D.C. ­– After reading the fine print on President Trump’s new executive order mandating an ill-defined Interior Department “review” of certain national monuments, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today questioned whether Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has enough time to hold a series of public meetings – which are typically held between federal officials and local stakeholders before a national monument is designated – at each of the more than 20 national monuments slated for “review” before his report to President Trump is due in August, 120 days from today.

Grijalva also questioned the order’s scope, pointing out that while it mandates a review of monuments named on or after Jan. 1, 1996, of at least 100,000 acres, it does not explain how the administration reached either of those arbitrary figures or how public input in the new review process would exceed that undertaken when each monument was first established. With no apparent justification, the order lumps in sites as diverse as Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, a large area in the remote Pacific Ocean, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, a landlocked region of approximately 175,000 acres in southwestern Colorado that protects the nation’s densest known concentration of Native American dwellings and artifacts.

“They’ve set a high standard for public input, and the clock is ticking now,” Grijalva said today. “I’m concerned that Republican rhetoric on our public lands is being taken for fact and that Secretary Zinke is being set up for failure here. National monuments are only declared after extensive local input, whatever a few lawmakers may now be saying. If he intends to offer the American people even more of a say than they already had before these monuments were declared, he needs to get on a plane tonight and spend the next several months on the road holding back-to-back-to-back public meetings. Jumping on a few pro-industry conference calls with Republican lawmakers doesn’t meet any reasonable standard for public outreach.”

Grijalva said he looked forward to having Secretary Zinke visit Arizona to discuss the many benefits and strong public support for the four national monuments – Sonoran Desert, Ironwood Hills, Grand Canyon-Parashant and Vermilion Cliffs – on the administration’s “review” list.

The executive order includes a confusing clause that leaves open the possibility of a “review” of any monument of any size declared since 1996 that Zinke personally determines was established without sufficient local input. Grijalva pointed out that this makes Zinke’s task less easy for the public to understand and leaves supporters of recently protected historical sites like Stonewall Inn National Monument – which can be as small as a few acres – to guess Zinke’s intentions without a clear set of guidelines.

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