Trump’s Secretary of Interior recommends trees to be cut at Katahdin

In a memorandum released last week by the Washington Post, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended President Trump allow “active timber management” at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, which currently emphasize the ‘traditional uses’ of the land such as hunting and snowmobiling.

While Zinke’s language in the report on 27 national monuments was unclear, many local residents and environmental groups believe that ‘active timber management’ means logging and, thus are upset by the prospect of commercial timber harvesting in the park. Restore The North Woods, a nonprofit organization focused on restoring wilderness and protecting public land, is currently in the process of petitioning President Trump to leave Katahdin’s management the way it is.

“We feel that Zinke and Trump should not interfere with the [Katahdin Woods and Waters] national monument,” said Ken Spalding, a Restore spokesperson in an interview conducted by the Echo. “Before it was designated [a National Park], the monument had a lot of consideration and included the former administration… so the way it is right now is what the public, especially the locals, are happy with.”

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was given to the National Park Service in an executive order made by former President Barack Obama late last year. Since the Antiquities Act was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, there have been over 84 million acres of land designated as National Parks and thereby protected by federal law. However, after his election, President Donald Trump claimed that these national monuments were a “massive federal land grab” and ordered the Interior Secretary to review the designation of these protected areas.

“[Zinke] visited here once,” claimed Spalding, reflecting on the Interior Secretary’s review of the Katah- din monument. “He talked to people for a couple of days, and basically said ‘It’s really important that this be decided on a local basis, then went back to Washington and decided without our input.”

Lucas St. Clair, a member of the family who donated the land of the Katahdin monument to the National Park Service, echoed this discontent with the decision reached by Zinke in an interview conducted by the Washington Post.

“We worked tirelessly for years to strike a balance,” claimed St. Clair of the negotiations with the former administration regarding Katahdin’s designation as a national monument. “We need to look through the lens of protecting the conservation and recreational values of the monument. I’m not sure if timber management does that.”

Zinke also signed a secretarial order last week that would “ensure the public’s right to hunt, fish, and target shoot,” another recommendation condemned by many environmental groups but embraced by sportsmen who were unhappy with Obama’s creation of the national monument. While hunting and snowmobiling are allowed within certain areas of the park, National Park Service policy limits the acreage in order to protect wildlife. Under Zinke’s order, these activities will be allowed throughout the monument.

However, despite the Interior Secretary’s recommendations, no legitimate action has yet been taken to alter the way the monument is run. Multiple groups, including Restore: The North Woods, are submitting petitions to their congressional delegations in order to stop the changes before they occur.

“We are essentially asking them to just leave [Ka- tahdin] alone,” said Spald- ing. “We want it to stay the way it is.”

The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is one of 27 that was reviewed by Zinke. While he did not recommend that Katahdin be reduced in size, he advised a reduction of four other protected areas, including Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase- Escalante, Nevada’s Gold Butte, and Oregon’s Cas- cade-Siskiyou. He also recommended that currently restricted activities such as fishing and hunting be expanded in ten other protected sites. This is to correct what he calls an “overreach” by previous administrations in their designations of national parks under the Antiquities Act.

“No other administration has gone this far,” claimed Kristen Brengel, vice president of government affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association. “This law was intended to protect places from development, not promote damaging natural and cultural resources.”

Currently, the White House is reviewing the Interior Secretary’s recommendations and has not yet reached a final decision.