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.

An endangered monk seal at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, January 2012. Photo: Andy Collins/NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

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 has 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 is holding a series of public meetings on the plans.

History

On June 8, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquity Act. This revolutionary act authorized the president to protect public lands without having to go through Congress.

Since then, presidents of both parties have established 117 national monuments in 31 states, Washington, DC, and several territories.

Trump Era

On February 6, 2017 an environmental law firm submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking “‘final legal advice’ relating to the president’s authority to designate, withdraw, expand, or modify national monuments under the Antiquities Act.”

On April 26, 2017 President Trump signed Executive Order 13792, directing the Secretary of the Interior to review all National Monuments (including Marine National Monuments) designated since January 1, 1996 that are at least 100,000 acres or were made “without adequate public outreach and coordination.”

On April 28, 2017 the president signed Executive Order 13795 ordering the Secretary of Commerce to review all Marine National Monuments and Marine Sanctuaries designated or expanded since 2007, to assess “the opportunity costs associated with potential energy and mineral exploration and production from the Outer Continental Shelf, in addition to any impacts on production in the adjacent regions.”

In total, 27 National Monuments and six Marine Sanctuaries are under review. Of the 27 monuments, 21 are listed for review under EO 13792 since they are at least 100,000 acres, and one – Katahdin Woods, in Maine, is called out to “determine whether the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.” Five of the 27 Monuments are Marine National Monuments.

Department of Interior (DOI) allowed public comment on Executive Order 13792 through July 10, 2017 (after initially only allowing 15 days). Public comments totaled nearly 3 million, and were overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining current borders and protections, but Interior Secretary Zinke dismissed them as a “well-orchestrated national campaign organized by multiple organizations.”

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (ordered by the Secretary of Commerce) allowed public comment on Executive Order 13795 through July 26, 2017 (which it later extended to August 14). Nearly 100,000 comments were submitted.

On August 24, 2017, Secretary Zinke submitted his final recommendations for closing or shrinking monuments to the White House. The report was not made public, prompting environmental groups to submit multiple FOIA requests for the report and related documents.

On October 12, 2017 an environmental law firm sued DOJ for failing to respond to it’s FOIA request from February 6, 2017.

Recommendations on the marine sanctuaries were due on October 25, 2017. The Department of Commerce has said the report is undergoing review, but has not been released publicly .

On November 2, 2017 environmental groups sued DOI for failure to respond to multiple FOIA requests (dated from March 3, 2017 – September 1, 2017) relating to Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Zinke’s August 24, 2017 report.

On December 4, 2017 President Trump announced that he was reducing Bears Ears National Monument area by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by almost half.

That same day lawsuits were filed by Earthjustice, on behalf of 8 conservation organizations, and by a coalition of five native American tribes in the D.C. District Court, stating the president’s proclamation is unlawful. Cases 1:17-cv-02587 and 1:17-cv-02590

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 boundaries  of several monuments.

A list of each monument or sanctuary and its status is below. Click on the Monument or Sanctuary name for more information about these areas.

 

NATIONAL MONUMENTS

Basin and Range, Nevada – established 7/10/2015

Listed for review under EO 13792. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Bears Ears National Monument, Utah – established 12/28/2016

On December 28, 2016 President Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah and established a tribal commission to assist with management. On June 12, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke proposed significantly scaling back the Bears Ear monument. Environmental groups have submitted multiple FOIAs regarding the proposed changes. On December 4, 2017 President Trump announced that he was reducing Bears Ears National Monument area by 85%. A coalition of sovereign tribes and has filed a lawsuit in the D.C. District Court, calling this action unlawful. The outdoor retailer Patagonia has also sued. Cases 1:17-cv-02590 and 1:17-cv-02605. On January 30, 2018 the D.C. District Court consolidated the Bears Ears lawsuits into one case.

BLM has 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 is holding a series of public meetings on the plans.

On February 2, 2018 land that President Trump removed from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments was opened to new mining claims.

Berryessa Snow Mountain, California – established 7/10/2015

Listed for review under EO 13792. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Canyons of the Ancients, Colorado – established 6/9/2000

Listed for review under EO 13792, but was removed from review on July 21, 2017 and is no longer under consideration for shrinking or modification.

Carrizo Plain, California – established 3/2/2012

Listed for review under EO 13792. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Cascade Siskiyou, Oregon – established 6/9/2000

Listed for review under EO 13792. On June 9, 2000 President Clinton designated the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, a 66,000 acre tract of land in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California. On January 12, 2017 President Obama expanded the monument by 48,000 acres. August 24, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke proposed scaling back Cascade Siskiyou, and revising the management plan, specifically mentioning the “impacts on commercial timber production.”

Craters of the Moon, Idaho – established 5/2/1924

Listed for review under EO 13792, but was removed from review on July 13, 2017 and is no longer under consideration for shrinking or modification.

Giant Sequoia, California – established 4/15/2000

Listed for review under EO 13792. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Gold Butte, Nevada – established 12/28/2016

Listed for review under EO 13792. On August 24, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke proposed scaling back Gold Butte and revising its management plan, specifically mentioning grazing permits and leases.

Grand Canyon-Parashant, Arizona – established 1/11/2000

Listed for review under EO 13792, but was removed from review on August 4, 2017 and is no longer under consideration for modification.

Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah – established 9/18/1996

Listed for review under EO 13792. On September 18, 1996 President Clinton designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s the largest National Monument, at 1.9 million acres. On June 23, 2017 an environmental group submitted a FOIA for information on the monument. On August 24, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke proposed scaling back Grand Staircase-Escalante. On December 4, 2017 President Trump announced he is cutting Grand Staircase-Escalante by almost half. Among others, a coalition of conservation groups has filed a lawsuit in the D.C. District Court, calling this action unlawful. Case 1:17-cv-02587 On January 30, 2018 the D.C. District Court consolidated the Grand Staircase-Escalante lawsuits into one case.

BLM has 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 is holding a series of public meetings on the plans.

On February 2, 2018 land that President Trump removed from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments was opened to new mining claims.

Hanford Reach, Washington – established 6/8/2000

Listed for review under EO 13792, but was removed from review on July 13, 2017 and is no longer under consideration for modification.

Ironwood Forest, Arizona – established 6/9/2000

Listed for review under EO 13792. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Katahdin Woods and Waters, Maine – established 8/24/2016

Listed for review to “determine whether the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.” On August 24, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke proposed changing Katahdin Woods’ management plan, specifically mentioning “timbering” and snow-mobiling.

Mojave Trails, California – established 2/12/2016

Listed for review under EO 13792. Not mentioned in the final recommendations.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, New Mexico – established 5/54/2015

Listed for review under EO 13792. On August 24, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke proposed changing Organ Mountains’ management plan, specifically mentioning the monument’s damage to the “ability for ranchers to run cattle.”

Rio Grande del Norte, New Mexico – established 5/25/2013

Listed for review under EO 13792. On August 24, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke proposed changing Rio Grande del Norte’s management plan, specifically mentioning how the monument’s restrictions have “left many grazing permittees choosing not to renew permits.”

Sand to Snow, California – established 2/12/2016

Listed for review under EO 13792, but was removed from review on August 16, 2017 and is no longer under consideration for modification.

San Gabriel Mountains, California – established 10/10/2014

Listed for review under EO 13792. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Sonoran Desert, Arizona – established 1/17/2001

Listed for review under EO 13792. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Upper Missouri River Breaks, Montana – established 1/17/2001

Listed for review under EO 13792, but was removed from review on August 2, 2017 and is no longer under consideration for modification.

Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona – established 11/9/2000

Listed for review under EO 13792. Not listed in the final recommendations.

MARINE NATIONAL MONUMENTS

Marianas Trench, Pacific Ocean – established 1/6/2009

Listed for review under EO 13792 and 13795. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Atlantic Ocean – established 9/15/2016

Listed for review under EO 13792 and 13795. In March, 2017 a coalition of fishing groups filed a lawsuit in the D.C. District Court over the monument designation, calling it unlawful under the Antiquities Act, and sought an injunction to preclude enforcement of the fishing ban. The lawsuit was stayed after the April 2017 Executive Orders on monuments and energy development were issued. On August 24, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke proposed opening Northeast Canyons and Seamounts to commercial fishing. On March 15th, 2018 the D.C. District lifted the stay on the fishing lawsuit, as requested by the plaintiffs, and agreed to by federal attorneys. On April 16, 2018 the Department of Justice moved to dismiss the fishing groups’ lawsuit, saying “Congress has granted the President broad discretion to designate a monument on lands owned or controlled by the federal government, and such decisionmaking is not generally subject to judicial review.”

Pacific Remote Islands – established 1/6/2009

Listed for review under EO 13792 and 13795. On August 24, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke proposed scaling back Pacific Remote Islands and opening the monument to commercial fishing.

Papahanaumokuakea, Pacific Ocean – established 6/15/2006

Listed for review under EO 13792 and 13795. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Rose Atoll, Pacific Ocean – established 1/6/2009 

Listed for review under EO 13792 and 13795. On August 24, 2017 Interior Secretary Zinke proposed scaling back Rose Atoll, and opening it to commercial fishing.

MARINE SANCTUARIES

Channel Islands, Pacific Ocean – established 5/5/1980

Listed for review under EO 13795. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Cordell Bank, Pacific Ocean – established 5/24/1989

Listed for review under EO 13795. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Greater Farallones, Pacific Ocean – established 1/16/1981

Listed for review under EO 13795. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Monterey Bay, Pacific Ocean – established 9/18/1992

Listed for review under EO 13795. Not listed in the final recommendations.

American Samoa, Pacific Ocean – established 4/29/1986

Listed for review under EO 13795. Not listed in the final recommendations.

Thunder Bay, Great Lakes – established 5/25/2000

Listed for review under EO 13795. Not listed in the final recommendations.

 

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