Republican leaders in Maine and Utah have requested that President Donald Trump remove monument designations for various locations that were given protections by his predecessor.
The Antiquities Act of 1906 doesn’t give the president power to undo a designation and there has been no challenge to the law since it was enacted. Of course, Donald Trump isn’t a normal President.
Former President Barack Obama used his power under the act to permanently preserve more land and water using national monument designations. In fact, he used the law more than any modern day President.
Among Obama’s protected areas were the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine last summer (87,500 acres). In Utah, the former president created Bears Ears National Monument on 1.3 million acres of land that’s sacred to Native Americans.
It’s not clear at this time of Trump will attempt to remove the designations. The Trump administration is currently reviewing each request but has yet to announce a decision.
Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage believes federal ownership shouldn’t stymie industrial development. GOP officials in Utah believe Obama overstepped his authority in granting increased federal land.
Newly sworn-in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has already promised to fight the sale or transfer of public lands. However, he also believes states should have a say in how land is used in their own regions.
The National Parks Conservation Association has promised to sue if Trump, the Interior Department or Congress tries to remove the special designations.