No modifications recommended to Zinke
The Sand to Snow National Monument, established in Riverside County in 2016, is unlikely to be changed as a result of the current review of 27 national monuments, which U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is conducting.
In April, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing a review of all national monuments established since January 1996 and greater than 100,000 acres.
The review included six monuments in California, including two — Mojave Trails and the Sand to Snow national monuments — which are in Southern California.
Zinke has already submitted recommendations to modify the boundary of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Opposition to these national monuments focused on the Bears Ears because of its size, 1.3 million acres.
The Antiquities Act in 1906, which authorizes the president to establish national monuments, refers to minimum size. While local tribes supported the Bears Ears National Monument, many other Utahans were concerned with its size since 60 percent of the state belongs to federal land management agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management or the National Park Service.
Trump prepared and signed the EO after many Congressmen expressed concern that designation of national monuments occured with little public and local involvement.
At the end of June, the 17 Republican congressmen sent their recommendations on the various national monuments to Zinke. In this 26-page letter, they did not recommend any change to the Sand to Snow monument.
“While the designation by President Obama circumvented active legislation that enjoyed widespread support among local officials and stakeholders, it largely adhered to the proposed boundaries and management plans … We recommend no changes to the boundaries of the Sand to Snow National Monument.”
The Sand to Snow National Monument connects the San Bernardino National Forest and Joshua Tree National Park. It encompasses about 154,000 acres, of which about 100,000 acres have already been designated as Congressional wilderness areas.
Besides the Sand to Snow monument, the Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado and the Hanford Ranch National Monument in Washington were the only ones for which the group did not recommend any reduction in size.
Most of the recommendations, including for the Mojave Trails Monument, the writers recommended that the monument be “confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
However, they did recommend rescinding the national monument designation for nine areas, including the Berryessa Snow Mountain in California.
In July, Zinke announced that three monuments — Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, Canyons of the Ancients and Hanford Reach National Monument— “are no longer under review and that he will recommend that no modifications be made to the monument[s],” according to a DOI press release.
The EO directs Zinke to examine whether the designation was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with “relevant stakeholders.” A final report is due by the end of August.