Trump Administration Aims to Carve Up National Monuments for Private Profit

WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke advised President Trump to shrink the boundaries of at least four national monuments, according to a leaked memo he submitted upon concluding an agency review.  Zinke also proposed subjecting several of the country’s most treasured public lands and waters to drilling, logging, commercial fishing and other destruction.

Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, made the following statement:

“If President Trump accepts Zinke’s advice, and moves to eviscerate monument protections, he’d be ignoring the law—and the will of the American people.

“We will stand up for the nearly 3 million people who urged the administration to protect these monuments—in court, if necessary.  We will not allow these special lands and waters to be handed over to private interests for drilling, commercial fishing, logging and other extraction.”


Zinke noted that he had received 2.8 million public comments that were “overwhelmingly in support of maintaining existing monuments.”

Nevertheless, he called for unspecified boundary changes to at least four land monuments:

  • Bears Ears in Utah
  • Cascade Siskiyou in Oregon
  • Gold Butte in Nevada
  • Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah

Zinke’s report also calls for changes in uses and/or management of:

  • Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine
  • Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, off New England
  • Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico
  • Rio Grande Del Norte in New Mexico

Zinke’s report calls for changes in uses and/or boundary modification of:

  • Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument
  • Rose Atoll Marine National Monument

The report makes no mention of more than a dozen other monuments included in the review.

For background on Zinke’s review of national monuments, see this blog by Kabir Green, senior advocate with NRDC’s Government Affairs program.

For more on the threats to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, see this blog by Brad Sewell, Director of Fisheries and the U.S. Atlantic for NRDC’s Oceans program.

NRDC’s recent report, “America’s Monuments: Worth the Fight,” on how our monuments benefit the economy and preserve our heritage, wildlife and history, can be found here.

An interactive NRDC story map of the national monuments Secretary Zinke reviewed can be found here.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.