For my term project, I will cover Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s proposal of scaling back the boundaries of several national monuments. This policy would affect the human relationship with the environment by affecting the ownership of pieces of this public land. If the land switches from national to state ownership, the state can decide what to do with the land. They can allow drilling, mining, grazing or other activities to move into the area. This previously protected land, would now have a different human impact on it, changing the relationship between humans and the environment there. Zinke’s proposal is to President Trump to reduce the size of several national monuments.
“It appears that certain monuments were designated to prevent economic activity such as grazing, mining and timber production rather than to protect specific objects,” according to a report from Ryan Zinke to President Trump (Eilperin, Shrink At Least 4 National Monuments and Modify a Half-Dozen Others, Zinke Tells Trump, WashingtonPost.com). This report, submitted by the Interior Department, was not released but only submitted to Trump.
How Zinke is Advising Trump to Alter National Monuments from Washington Post
Zinke reviewed 22 national land monuments relating to the Antiquities Act for Trump. This act allows presidents to declare historic landmarks, structures and other historic objects on lands that are already owned by the federal government (Roth, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking some national monuments, usatoday.com).
I think this issue is important because public lands are a valuable resource to people and this policy limits that resource and allows negative influences to come into a previously protected area.
Supporters of the policy say that the large public lands are a hindrance on energy development and agriculture economy. A Republican state representative in Utah, Mike Noel, is in favor of the shrinking. He said the land limited drilling, mining and grazing for the state. “When you turn the management over to the tree-huggers, the bird and bunny lovers and the rock lickers, you turn your heritage over,” Mr. Noel said (Turkewitz, Interior Secretary Proposes Shrinking Four National Monuments, nytimes.com).
People in opposition of the policy say that this would put great amounts of public lands in states’ hands. These lands could be sold and turned into private lands, or could have negative environmental impacts come in, such as mining, drilling or cattle grazing. Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society said, “represent an unprecedented assault on our parks and public lands” by the Trump administration (Daly, Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West, washingtonpost.com).
I believe that these national monuments should not be reduced in size. The reduced public land would be turned into state property, where they could become be sold to private parties and become more difficult for people to use. If this happened, the people would lose a valuable resource.