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Recommendation defies New Mexicans' call to keep cherished landscapes intact.
SANTA FE, NM—Today Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will submit his final report and recommendations on the 27 national monuments he has been reviewing under an order from President Trump. Although Zinke has yet to release the full report and recommendations, this morning he told the Associated Press he would recommend unspecified boundary changes to a “handful” of national monuments, New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments among them. In June, Zinke had recommended unspecified reductions to the boundary of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
“President Trump and Secretary Zinke are determined to abolish protections on our cherished landscapes, despite the considerable efforts from a diverse set of interests that went into establishing Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks,” said Chris Krupp, Public Lands Guardian for WildEarth Guardians in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “President Trump is more concerned with rewarding his CEO friends in the resource industries and dog-whistling radical right-wingers like Cliven Bundy’s followers than he is in preserving our public lands for people that camp, hike, fish and hunt.”
The recommendations defy overwhelming public opinion on protecting national monuments. The public submitted 2.8 million comments to the Department of Interior regarding Zinke’s review, with 99 percent opposing a reduction or elimination of existing monuments. Among New Mexicans, 94 percent opposed eliminating or shrinking national monuments.
Of the commenters specifically identifying Rio Grande del Norte, 98 percent opposed changes to the monument. For Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, the number was 93 percent.
“Despite asking for public comment, Trump and Zinke never cared what New Mexicans thought about keeping critical protections on Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. Secretary Zinke is always comparing himself to Teddy Roosevelt, but Roosevelt wouldn’t have defied 94 percent of New Mexicans to strip these places of the protections that preserve them for future generations,” said Krupp.