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Interior Secretary Recommends No Eliminations Of US National Monuments

Bureau of Land Management / Flikr

Bureau of Land Management / Flikr

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he's recommending that none of 27 national monuments carved from wilderness and ocean and under review by the Trump administration be eliminated.

But there would be changes to a "handful," he said.

Zinke told The Associated Press that unspecified boundary adjustments for some monuments designated over the past four decades will be included in the recommendations he planned to give President Donald Trump on Thursday. None of the sites would revert to new ownership, he said, while public access for uses such as hunting, fishing or grazing would be maintained or restored.

Of the 27 monuments under review, five were in California.

He also spoke of protecting tribal interests and historical land grants, pointing to monuments in New Mexico, where Hispanic ranchers have opposed two monuments proclaimed by President Barack Obama.

A White House official says Trump has received the recommendations and is reviewing them "to determine the best path forward for the American people."

The official was not authorized to publicly discuss a draft report and insisted on anonymity.

Environmental groups are roundly condemning the recommendations.

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski says Zinke's review of the national monuments "has been a complete sham" and a pretext for "selling out our public lands and waters" to the oil industry and others.

Ben Schreiber, senior political strategist at Friends of the Earth, says Zinke's action is illegal and "he can rest assured that his latest giveaway to corporate polluters will be litigated in the courts."

And Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, is urging President Donald Trump to "ignore these illegal and dangerous recommendations and instead act to preserve these beloved places."

Zinke declined to say whether portions of the monuments would be opened up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries for which Trump has advocated.

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