The fight for Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah
The U.S. Department of Interior added Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve to its list of monuments being reviewed under a presidential executive order.
President Donald Trump’s executive order issued April 26 looks at redesignating acreage of national monuments that were expanded under the Antiquities Act, said a Department of Interior news release. Craters of the Moon wasn’t on the original order, but a Friday release listed it among 27 national monuments being reviewed.
Monuments under review had to be created or expanded after January 1996. The Department of Interior is seeking public comment, giving the public 15 days to submit comment on the contentious review of Utah’s Bear Ears National Monument. Public comment will be accepted for all other monuments under review for 60 days after May 12.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in the release that public comment has not been taken on many of the monuments from prior expansions.
“Today’s action, initiating a formal public comment process finally gives a voice to local communities and states when it comes to Antiquities Act monument designations,” he said in the release. “There is no predetermined outcome on any monument. I look forward to hearing from and engaging with local communities and stakeholders as this process continues.”
Craters of the Moon covers more than 700,000 acres of of lava rock formations, sagebrush steppe grasslands and hunting and grazing areas southwest of Arco. The area was originally comprised of 54,000 acres proclaimed as a national monument in 1924. The rest was added by President Bill Clinton in 2000.
Trump’s order could only review the expanded area of Craters, but the order has the potential to upend protections on the land possibly expanding use for grazing, hunting and resource extraction. The Antiquities Act has never been challenged in this way and courts haven’t made a definitive ruling on a president’s capability to revoke protections granted by the act.
The Idaho Senate passed a resolution in March that will express to Congress, which can create national parks, the Legislature’s support for redesignating Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve as a national park. The resolution never received a hearing in the House State Affairs Committee, where Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone, serves as chairman. A Butte County advisory ballot measure in November showed 57 percent of voters supported changing the status to national park.
The public comment period begins May 12. Comments can be submitted online at regulations.gov or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.