The “House on Fire” ruins in Mule Canyon, near Blanding, Utah, are seen on June 22, 2016. The Interior Department has released a list of 27 national monuments it is reviewing under a presidential order, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. (Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press)

The “House on Fire” ruins in Mule Canyon, near Blanding, Utah, are seen on June 22, 2016. The Interior Department has released a list of 27 national monuments it is reviewing under a presidential order, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. (Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press)

Fueled by Trump order, Interior identifies 27 monuments for possible end to protections

WASHINGTON — The Interior Department has identified 27 national monuments, mostly in Western states, that it is reviewing for possible changes to the protections created by Republican and Democratic presidents over the past two decades.

President Donald Trump ordered the review last month, saying protections imposed by his three immediate predecessors amounted to “a massive federal land grab” that “should never have happened.”

A list released Friday includes 22 monuments on federal land in 11, mostly Western states, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Nevada’s Basin and Range and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine.

The review also targets five marine monuments in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, including a huge reserve in Hawaii established in 2006 by President George W. Bush and expanded last year by President Barack Obama.

Washington state

One area from Washington state is on the list: the Hanford Reach National Monument, which was created in 2000 mostly from the buffer surrounding the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near the Columbia River.

Bush, Obama and former President Bill Clinton were among a host of presidents who protected hundreds of millions of acres under a 1906 law that authorizes the president to declare federal lands and waters as monuments and restrict their use.

Trump said the protections imposed by his predecessors “unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control, eliminating the ability of the people who actually live in those states to decide how best to use that land.”

The land controls have “gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we’re going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place,” Trump said at a signing ceremony marking the executive order.

‘Egregious abuse’

Trump accused Obama in particular of exploiting the 1906 Antiquities Act in an “egregious abuse of federal power,” adding that he was giving power “back to the states and to the people, where it belongs.”

In December, shortly before leaving office, Obama infuriated Utah Republicans by creating the Bears Ears National Monument on more than 1 million acres of land that’s sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.

Republicans in the state asked Trump to take the unusual step of reversing Obama’s decision. They said the monument designation will stymie growth by closing the area to new commercial and energy development. The Antiquities Act does not give the president explicit power to undo a designation and no president has ever taken such a step.

Trump’s order also targets the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, created by Clinton in 1996, and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine, created last year by Obama. At 87,500 acres, Katahdin is the only one of the 22 monuments under review that is smaller than 100,000 acres, the minimum size designated by the order.

The Interior Department said Katahdin will be reviewed under a provision that singles out whether a monument was created or expanded without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders. The land east of Maine’s Baxter State Park was bought by Burt’s Bees co-founder Roxanne Quimby, whose foundation donated it to the federal government.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been directed to produce an interim report next month and make a recommendation on Bears Ears, and then issue a final report within 120 days. Zinke is traveling to Utah today and will visit Bears Ears and Grand Staircase.

Members of a coalition of five Western tribes that pushed for the Bears Ears designation have said they’re outraged the Trump administration will review a decision they say was already carefully vetted by the Obama administration, including a multi-day visit last year by then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

“Once it’s designated, it’s designated,” said Davis Filfred of the Navajo Nation.

Trump “should just honor our past leaders and those who were before him. He’s disregarding the Native Americans, the first people of this nation. This is sacred land.”

Other sites on the list, and the dates they were created, are Berryessa Snow Mountain, California, 2015; Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado, 2000; Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, 2001; Cascade Siskiyou, Oregon, established 2000, expanded 2017; Craters of the Moon, Idaho, established 1924, expanded 2000; Giant Sequoia National Monument, California, 2000; Gold Butte National Monument, Nevada, 2016.

Also, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona, 2000; Ironwood Forest National Monument, Arizona, 2000; Mojave Trails National Monument, California, 2016; Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, New Mexico, 2014; Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico, 2013; Sand to Snow National Monument, California, 2016; San Gabriel Mountains, California, 2014; Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona, 2001; Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Montana, 2001 and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona, 2000.

Marine monuments on the list are Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Pacific Ocean, 2009; Northeast Canyons & Seamounts Marine National Monument, off the coast of New England, 2016; Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, Pacific Ocean, established 2009, expanded 2014; Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Pacific Ocean, established 2006, expanded 2016; and Rose Atoll Marine National Monument, Pacific Ocean, 2009.

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