More than 1 million comments were submitted to Interior

The public comment period following Trump’s order on monuments has closed.

 

This story has been updated.

The clock has run out. July 10 was the last chance for the public to weigh in on the Interior Department’s review of more than two-dozen national monuments, most of which are located in the West. By the time the comment period closed, the agency had received more than 1.4 million comments submitted to regulations.gov.

The assessment was triggered by an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on April 26. Trump called for a review of 27 national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act since 1996, including Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed shrinking Bears Ears National Monument. (Neighboring Monument Valley is visible in the background.)

The Interior Department accepted comments on what to do with the national monuments until 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Monday night. Twenty-one of the monuments are scattered across the Western U.S., from Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico to Hanford Reach in Washington. (One of the other monuments under review is located in Maine, while the other five are marine national monuments.)

While the public comment page at regulations.gov lists an earlier date by which comments on Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had extended the deadline until July 10. Zinke issued an interim report on Bears Ears in June in which he suggested shrinking the monument, though the extent to which the President or the Interior Department have the legal authority to modify monuments without the help of Congress is unclear. Past presidents have made mostly small changes to boundaries in the past, but the Antiquities Act only explicitly grants the president the ability to create monuments. The final Bears Ears report is expected later this month, while a report on the other national monuments is due in late August.

In the meantime, environmental groups have criticized the assessment: “A truly fair review — based on the facts and overwhelming public opinion — would conclude that every one of these monuments must remain intact to protect our shared American heritage,” Jamie Williams, Wilderness Society president, said in a statement.

The Trump administration and supporters of the review maintain that coordination with local stakeholders and public input were neglected in past monument declarations, particularly in the case of Bears Ears. However, the monument’s creation underwent years of open debate and significant compromise.

The Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona is one of 27 national monuments under review by the Interior Department.

Want to brush up on national monuments? Check out these stories:

1. For more on the background of Bears Ears National Monument and the discussion that preceded its creation, read our May 2016 feature story, “In Utah, the fight for a Bears Ears monument heats up.”

2. Get the facts on some of the claims swirling around Trump’s national monument review order and Bears Ears National Monument.

3. “A president has never undone a national monument after its creation,” writes Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic. Read the whole piece unpacking presidential authority under the Antiquities Act.

4. Each monument has its own story; the Taos News explained the particulars of the two New Mexican monuments under review on Sunday.

5. Sometimes, simply designating a site a national monument isn’t enough to protect it. Read about how budget cuts and local politics have undermined the potential of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

Emily Benson is an editorial fellow at High Country News

High Country News Classifieds
  • MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement: Membership Director Job Title: Membership Director Supervisor: Executive Director Classification: Full-time exempt Location: Boise, ID Job Overview Winter Wildlands Alliance is seeking a...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • STEWARDSHIP SPECIALIST
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks experienced person to manage its 133 conservation easements in south-central Colorado.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Position Announcement POSITION TITLE: Executive Director ORGANIZATION: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument REPORTING TO: Board of Directors LOCATION: Ashland, OR POSTING CLOSES: March...
  • ARIZONA CONSERVATION CORPS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Arizona Conservation Corps is seeking a Program Director in Flagstaff or Tucson
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • NEW MEXICO PROPERTY - SILVER CITY
    20 acres, $80,000. Owner financing, well, driveway, fencing possible, very private, sensible covenants, broker owned. Contact - 575-534-7955 or [email protected]
  • GRANT WRITER
    "We all love this place we call Montana. We believe that land and water and air are not ours to despoil, but ours to steward...
  • COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
    ABOUT US: "This thriving citizens organization exemplifies the ideal of public involvement in public processes." - Billings Gazette At Northern Plains, we believe that true...
  • ST. LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN THE OUTDOOR PROGRAM
    To view the complete position description please visit: http://employment.stlawu.edu. St. Lawrence University is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
  • TRAIL CREW & ASSISTANT TRAIL CREW LEADERS
    SEEKING TALENTED TRAIL WORK LEADERS The Pacific Crest Trail Association, headquartered in Sacramento, California is dedicated to protecting, preserving and promoting the Pacific Crest National...
  • SEASONAL SAN JUAN RANGERS
    Seeking experienced crew members to patrol Colorado's most iconic mountain wilderness.
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • DEVELOPMENT AND ADVOCACY DIRECTOR
    Provide stewardship and protection for the Great Burn wildlands along the Montana-Idaho stateline. This position is based in Missoula, MT, where a river runs through...
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • WILDERNESS CONSERVATION CORPS - OREGON
    The Siskiyou Mountain Club is hiring interns for the 2020 Field Season. Interns utilize non-mechanized tools to complete trail restoration and maintenance while gaining job...
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.