Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Thursday that two national monuments in Washington and Idaho are no longer being considered for removal or reduction by the Trump administration.
In a statement, Zinke announced that the 195,000-acre Hanford Reach National Monument in south-central Washington and the 460,000-acre Craters of the Moon National Monument in southern Idaho “are no longer under review” as part of President Trump’s order in April that more than two dozen monument designations be reconsidered.
Hanford Reach was designated by President Bill Clinton in 2000. Craters of the Moon was established in the mid-1920s but greatly expanded by Clinton in 2000.
Both are popular monuments in their states, and their review was not as controversial as the one for Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, designated last year by President Barack Obama, and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, designated by Clinton in 1996.
The decision to review Bears Ears has led to protests by activists, an economic boycott in Utah and calls by opposition politicians to leave it untouched. Zinke recently said Bears Ears should be scaled back but withheld a specific decision until an examination of all 27 monuments is completed this summer.
Zinke said Thursday that he was recommending no changes for the two Washington and Idaho monuments, though the final decision is the president’s to make. Interior provided no explanation of the process that led to the secretary’s announcement or any analysis to support it. Zinke said he called on his training as a geologist — “I realize Craters of the Moon is a living timeline of geologic history,” he said — and his experience as a sportsman. Like-minded people “from all over the country go to Hanford Reach for some of the best fishing and bird hunting around,” he noted.
His comments drew a swift rebuke from the Center for American Progress. “The only thing that’s been consistent throughout Zinke’s review is its arbitrariness,” said Kate Kelly, the organization’s public lands director. “From the get-go, it’s been a guessing game on … how the review is being conducted and what is driving Zinke’s decisions.”
Kelly praised the decision to leave Hanford Reach and Craters of the Moon alone but said “the fate of 25 more monuments rests in the hands of a process without logic or transparency.”
The Trump administration’s review of 27 national monuments on land and sea has drawn millions of comments, but how those comments weigh into the process underway at Interior and the Commerce Department, the steward of marine monuments, is unknown.