National Monuments, Marine National Monuments, & Marine Sanctuaries

The Environmental & Energy Law Program is tracking the environmental regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration. Click here for the list of rules we are following

Why it Matters

Our national monuments, marine national monuments, and marine sanctuaries are under threat of being eliminated, reduced in size, opened to commercial fishing, or developed for logging and mineral or energy extraction.


Current Status

On December 4, 2017 President Trump issued a proclamation that he was reducing Bears Ears National Monument area by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by almost half. Lawsuits were filed immediately by Earthjustice, on behalf of a coalition conservation organizations, by a land use and conservation coalition including outdoor retailer Patagonia, and by a coalition of five sovereign tribes in the D.C. District Court, stating the president’s proclamation is unlawful.

On December 5, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke’s report to President Trump on monument and sanctuary recommendations, which was issued in August, was finally made public. His recommendations include changing the management plans to and national monument boundaries  of several monuments to allow for more extractive uses (such as logging, mining, and hunting), changing the boundaries and opening to commercial fishing two marine monuments (Rose Atoll, Pacific Remote Islands), and opening Northeast Canyons and Seamounts to fishing as well. Zinke also recommends creating new monuments in Kentucky, Montana, and Mississippi.

On February 2, 2018 land that President Trump removed from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments was opened to new mining claims. No new claims were immediately filed.

BLM opened a public comment period for development of management plans for areas of Bears Ears through April 11, 2018, and for areas of Grand Staircase-Escalante through April 13, 2018, and held a series of public meetings on the plans.

In early June 2018 it was reported that NOAA is considering opening marine national monuments to commercial fishing as early as September. The proposal was reportedly included in a “Vision Setting Summit” presentation by Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, acting administrator of NOAA. The monuments likely to be subject to fishing are the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Pacific Remote Islands, and Rose Atoll monuments for which Sec. Zinke’s memorandum released on December 5, 2017 recommended eliminating the prohibition on commercial fishing and handing fishery management authority to the regional fishery management councils under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Click here learn more about the history of this rule and actions that have been taken on it by the Trump Administration. 

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