The Hanford Reach National Monument near the Tri-Cities made the list of 21 national monuments in the West with fates that could be decided by the administration of President Donald Trump.
Trump signed an executive order April 26 calling for the review of certain national monuments, with the Department of Interior releasing details of the review on Friday.
Public comment will be accepted for 60 days after May 12 on the future of the Hanford Reach and most of the other national monuments on the list, the Department of Interior announced.
Critics of the review have said it could lead to reducing the size of national monuments or removing national monument designations signed into law by past presidents under the Antiquities Act.
“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,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
He said there is no pre-determined outcome on any monument.
Re-litigating the Reach is not only unnecessary, but also doubles down on widespread fears about the Trump administration’s singular focus on rolling back protections for some of our country’s most prized public spaces.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
But Washington state’s U.S. senators did not appear convinced.
“Re-litigating the Reach is not only unnecessary, but also doubles down on widespread fears about the Trump administration’s singular focus on rolling back protections for some of our country’s most prized public spaces,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said Trump’s “misguided effort to undo” the designation of national monuments is wrong.
“I will fight it every step of the way,” she said.
Former President Bill Clinton designated the Hanford Reach National Monument in June 2000, formed mostly from land set aside in 1943 as the security zone around the production portion of the Hanford nuclear reservation. The land has remained largely undisturbed since World War II.
The national monument covers almost 200,000 acres of mostly shrub steppe land that is home to elk, deer and other wildlife.
Through it runs 51 miles of the Columbia River, critical habitat for fall Chinook salmon. It is the last free-flowing, nontidal stretch of the Columbia River in the United States.
The portion of the monument that includes Rattlesnake Mountain remains closed to the public. But land is open north of the Columbia River, including the White Bluffs overlook, with views of the White Bluffs, the river and the Cold War remnants across the river at the nuclear reservation.
Part of being a good steward is being a good neighbor and listening to the American people we represent.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
Part of the monument is open for hunting deer, upland birds such as pheasants and quail and waterfowl including ducks, coots and geese, and the Columbia River Reach is a popular fishing area.
“For nearly two decades, the Hanford Reach in southeastern Washington has symbolized our state’s rich appreciation of public lands and the wonderful collaboration that happens at the community level,” Murray said.
She urged Mid-Columbia residents to let the Trump administration understand what the Hanford Reach National Monument means to Washington state’s history, culture and economy.
There were divided opinions locally when the monument was designated. Commissioners in Benton, Franklin and Grant counties said that local interests should be involved in decisions about the land’s management.
Under the Antiquities Act, presidents have had the authority to create national monuments since 1906, with eight Democratic presidents and eight Republican presidents designating 140 national monuments, according to Cantwell.
Comments may be submitted after May 12 at www.regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the search bar and clicking “search,”
The Department of Interior review will cover primarily national monuments designated or expanded in the West since 2000, with the Hanford Reach National Monument the only one on the list in Washington state.
The interior secretary will consider whether the designation meets the Antiquities Act’s objective to include the smallest area compatible with protections needed for resources. He will look at the effects on the use of federal and nonfederal lands, both within the monument and beyond its boundaries.
Zinke also is directed to consider economic development concerns of state, tribal and local governments and the availability of federal resources to manage the land. He can consider other factors he deems appropriate.
“The Department of the Interior is the steward of America’s greatest treasures and the manager of one-fifth of our land,” Zinke said Friday. “Part of being a good steward is being a good neighbor and listening to the American people we represent.”
Comments may be submitted after May 12 at regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the search bar and clicking “search,” or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.