Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 18, 2017

Contact:  Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,
Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 845-6703,

Zinke Recommends Removing Protections From 10 National Monuments

Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Maine, Marine Monuments Would Be Opened to Timber, Fossil Fuel, Fishing Industries

WASHINGTON— Secretary Ryan Zinke is asking President Trump to slash protections from 10 iconic national monuments and significantly shrink at least four of them — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah, Gold Butte in Nevada and Cascade Siskiyou in California and Oregon.

The Trump administration has not yet commented on the recommendations, which Zinke submitted last month but which have been kept secret until they were leaked to the Wall Street Journal. If Trump moves forward with this dismantling of public lands, he will be challenged in court.

“Zinke says he wants to perpetuate traditional uses, but he’s actually promoting traditional abuses. Logging, mining, grazing, fracking and drilling destroy wildlife habitat and objects of scientific and cultural importance,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center. “Zinke and Trump are displaying their disdain for these magnificent public lands and the millions of people who demanded they remain protected. Trump has no authority to make any of the changes that Zinke’s recommending. If he tries to, we’ll see him in court.”

Zinke recommends eviscerating protections for the following national monuments: Bears Ears and Grand Canyon-Escalante in Utah; Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon-California; Gold Butte in Nevada; Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and  Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico; and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. He also wants to open three marine monuments to commercial fishing: Northeast Canyons and Seamounts in the Atlantic; Pacific Remote Islands; and Rose Atoll in the South Pacific.

“Zinke’s hostility to these spectacular underwater jewels is an affront to biological diversity and human decency,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director at the Center. “Unleashing industrial fishing on these incredible ocean environments is like inviting mining into the Grand Canyon. Trump and Zinke are shirking our country’s responsibility to protect marine life.” 
In April Trump ordered the Department of the Interior to review the designation of 27 national monuments ― those larger than 100,000 acres protected since 1996. His goal was to trigger dramatic changes in monument protections or boundaries to allow fossil fuel development, logging, mining and other development on these public lands.

Zinke submitted his report to Trump by the Aug. 24 deadline, but it has not been publicly released. The Center has filed a public records request for the report, and sued for all information related to Zinke’s review.

More than 2.8 million people wrote to Zinke and the Interior Department on this matter, nearly all of them urging the administration to preserve protections for these iconic places. Zinke visited a handful of national monuments and met almost exclusively with their opponents, including representatives of the oil, gas and timber industries. He arbitrarily decided to take no action on six national monuments, without providing any criteria for his decisions to leave current protections in place.

National monument designations have protected some of the most spectacular public landscapes in the country from fossil fuel extraction, mining and logging. Dozens of the nation's most treasured national parks were first protected as monuments, including Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Acadia and Olympic national parks.  

“Zinke and Trump only understand exploitation and greed,” Spivak said. “These irreplaceable public lands belong to all Americans, and we all lose if our natural inheritance is exploited for corporate gain.”

To reach the Center’s monuments experts on the ground, contact:

Basin and Range, Gold Butte: Patrick Donnelly, (702) 483-0449,

Carrizo Plain, Mojave Trails, Giant Sequoia, Berryessa Snow Mountain, San Gabriel Mountains, Castle Mountains: Ileene Anderson, (323) 654-5943,

Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante: Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414,

Vermillion Cliffs: Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414,

Ironwood: Curtis Bradley, (520) 623-5252,

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks: Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017,

Cascade-Siskiyou: Jennifer Molidor, (707) 888-9261,

Katahdin Woods and Waters: Mollie Matteson,


The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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