Thursday, August 03, 2017

Natural selection? Critics say Zinke’s national monument review resembles a reality TV show

- The Washington Times

In many respects, the Trump administration’s second look at national monuments across the country is playing out less like a typical government review and more like a season of “Survivor.” So far, four monuments have been spared, while a fifth — the sprawling Bears Ears National Monument in Utah — has been recommended for massive cuts. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has rejected the idea of issuing one comprehensive study at the end of his work and instead is announcing winners and losers as he goes. The most recent announcement was Wednesday afternoon, when Mr. Zinke said he believes the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument should be left alone. “I am recommending to the president that no changes be made to the monument,” he said. “The monument is one of the only free-flowing areas of the Missouri that remains as Lewis and Clark saw it more than 200 years ago.” Critics argue that such an announcement is a wholly inappropriate way of treating the entire process and one that harks back to President Trump’s history with reality TV, with individual contenders being allowed to stay or being dismissed on an almost weekly basis. In addition, opponents argue that Mr. Zinke hasn’t adequately explained his decision-making process and has left monument backers — including lawmakers, Indian tribes and other stakeholders — in the dark...The Interior Department says it’s simply fair to make announcements as soon as decisions are made. “As monuments are reviewed and found to require no modification, the department is removing them from the review and letting press and local stakeholders know the department’s decision. We get questions from the press and other stakeholders, and it’s our job to keep them all informed. It’s common sense,” said Heather Swift, the Interior Department’s press secretary. Mr. Zinke’s monument tour continued last weekend as he visited New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. His trip included helicopter and ground tours of the area, and meetings with local lawmakers, tribal leaders and other officials. A decision on that monument’s fate is expected soon...more

No comments: