(CN) – On the heels of President Donald Trump’s proclamations to drastically cut two national monument’s borders, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released a final report recommending two more monuments for the chopping block with three new ones created.
Zinke’s final report is the child of Trump’s executive order this past April to review the monuments, a move that spawned a landslide of public response. The 20-page report outlines four major points: keep federal lands federal, add three new monuments, modify the boundaries of four monuments and expand access for hunting and fishing.
Besides the two cuts to national monuments announced Monday – Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante – Zinke’s report recommends downsizing Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada and Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument on the California-Oregon border.
In a somewhat surprising move, Zinke also recommended establishing three new national monuments. He advised giving monument status to the home of Medgar Evers, an essential member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who was murdered by white supremacists in the driveway of the home in 1963.
Two other monument recommendations include a Union Army base in Kentucky that was used to train black people during the Civil War, and 130,000 acres within Montana’s Lewis and Clark National Forest, a site sacred to people of the Blackfeet Nation.
Zinke believes his recommendation for monument modifications reflects past administrations’ mistakes.
“America has spoken and public land belongs to the people,” said Zinke in a statement. “As I visited the monuments across this country, I met with Americans on all sides of the issue – from ranchers to conservationists to tribal leaders – and found that we agree on wanting to protect our heritage while still allowing public access to public land.”
But while Zinke cites the American public as the reason for cutting boundaries, Jaina Moan, executive director of Friends of Gold Butte, credits Nevadans and national-monument lovers for her opposition. Moan held a press conference Tuesday in response to Zinke’s final report.
“It’s disheartening. It’s saddening,” said Moan, backed by supporters. “It makes me and a lot of people angry, which is why we’re here to say, today, that Gold Butte National Monument is wanted by Nevadans and by all of those who appreciate the value of our antiquities and our treasured public lands.”
Visitors to the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada enjoy massive sandstone towers and unique wildlife like the Mojave Desert tortoise. It is also a place of cultural and spiritual significance to Native American tribes.
The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument spans part of Oregon and California, and was originally established by President Bill Clinton in 2000. While many of the national monuments are set up to protect areas of cultural significance, this monument protects diverse environmental and wildlife features: three mountain ranges converge here, and it is also home to several endangered species.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon blasted Zinke’s report and statement, saying the proposed modifications are motivated by corporate interest rather than the public’s.