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Thursday is deadline day for national monuments review

Updated August 23, 2017 - 5:58 pm

Thursday is the due date for the Trump Administration’s national monument review, but it’s unclear when the public will get to see Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s full slate of recommendations.

In his April 26 executive order, President Donald Trump gave Zinke 120 days to submit a final report on 22 national monuments created or expanded by presidential decree since Jan. 1, 1996.

So far, Zinke has released his findings for seven of the monuments on the list. He has yet to say what should be done with the remaining 15 sites, including two designations by former President Barack Obama in Nevada — Gold Butte in northeastern Clark County and Basin and Range in remote Lincoln and Nye counties.

The Interior Department did not respond to questions Wednesday about the deadline for the monument review.

Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are scheduled to be in Missoula, Montana, on Thursday for a briefing about wildfires burning across the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest.

Monument supporters in Nevada are bracing for bad news.

“If it goes against us — and we assume it will — there will be lawsuits,” said Las Vegas ecologist Jim Boone, an outspoken advocate for Gold Butte and Basin and Range. “Everybody’s planning for the worst.”

To date, though, Zinke has only suggested changes to one of the monuments under review. In June, he called for an unspecified boundary reduction for the 1.4 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

Since then, he has completed his review and recommended no changes for six other monuments: Grand Canyon-Parashant in northwestern Arizona, just across the border from Nevada; Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado; Craters of the Moon in Idaho; Hanford Reach in Washington; Sand to Snow in Southern California; and Upper Missouri River Breaks in Montana.

In his executive order, Trump directed Zinke to identify possible actions the White House or Congress could take to scale back or eliminate monuments deemed too large or too restrictive to public access and economic development.

There are a handful of examples of presidents reducing the size of national monuments over the past 100 years, but even Zinke has said it would be tricky and unprecedented for the president to rescind a monument altogether.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 grants the nation’s chief executive the authority to create monuments but includes no provisions for eliminating such declarations by previous presidents.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

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