WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Friday he is not recommending changes to Arizona’s Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the fifth site Zinke has removed from an ongoing review of national monuments for possible elimination or reduction.
The million-acre site overseen by the Interior Department was designated as a monument in 2000. The designation protects it from energy development and other activities.
The Arizona reserve, located west of the Grand Canyon, has some of the most pristine geological formations in North America, Zinke said. The formations “show the scientific history of our Earth while containing thousands of years of human relics and fossils,” he said.
Zinke is reviewing 27 national monuments designated by previous presidents. The review was ordered by President Donald Trump, who says many monument designations are unwarranted land grabs by the federal government.
Zinke has removed five sites from review ahead of a final report due later this month. Others removed from consideration are in Montana, Colorado, Idaho and Washington state.
Twenty-two other national monuments, mostly in the West, face curtailing or elimination of protections put in place over the past two decades by presidents from both parties. Monuments under review include Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Nevada’s Basin and Range, and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine.
The Center for Western Priorities, a Colorado-based environmental group, slammed Zinke even as it praised his decision to spare Grand Canyon-Parashant.
“It’s time for Secretary Zinke to end this week-by-week reality show charade,” said the group’s executive director, Jennifer Rokala. “Does he really expect us to say ‘thank you’ for taking the only legal option available to him? By pardoning a landscape-scale monument of more than one million acres, he’s acknowledging both the value and legal status of all of America’s national monuments.”