Oregon and its political leaders await word on whether the Trump administration will shrink the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, or leave the 112,000-acre (45,730-hectare) monument along the border with California alone.
Gov. Kate Brown's office and Oregon's congressional delegation have sought copies of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's draft report to President Donald Trump to no avail, according to Brown's press secretary.
Bryan Hockaday said Friday that Brown and others are awaiting word. Late Thursday, Brown said she's deeply concerned about the future of the monument and suspects Oregon's public lands are in the crosshairs of the federal administration.
Zinke says none of America's 27 monuments he's examined will be rescinded, though he'll push for boundary changes on a handful.
No president has tried to reverse a national monument designation.
There’s reason to doubt that doing so would be legal.
But these are unusual times, and President Donald Trump has directed his interior secretary to review every national monument larger than 100,000 acres that has been established since 1996, the final year of Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Trump’s executive order creates uncertainty about two dozen national monuments, including Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
The official rationale — political cover may be a more accurate description — is that the review by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke gives the public a chance to weigh in on these monuments. The public already has weighed in, but the administration may need a reminder.
As we noted last month when Trump ordered the review, none of the land in question is privately owned. The Antiquities Act authorizes presidents to “preserve historic landmarks, prehistoric structures and other objects of historic or scientific interest” on land owned or controlled by the federal government.
Studies have shown that monuments and parks are tourist attractions, stimulating the economies of nearby communities. But they aren’t compatible with mining, grazing and fossil fuel development — interests that, in many cases, would prefer to see federal land turned over to states that might give development and extraction of resources higher priority than conservation.
There are a handful of examples of presidents who have reduced the size of national monuments, but no president has tried to eliminate one entirely. President Franklin Roosevelt asked his attorney general for a legal opinion on the subject in 1938 and was told there was no such legal authority.
“The Executive can no more destroy his own authorized work, without some other legislative sanction, than any other person can,” Attorney General Homer Cummings wrote in 1938. “To assert such a principle is to claim for the Executive the power to repeal or alter an act of Congress at will.”
Trump would face another legal fight if he tried to unilaterally decertify a monument.
Our view is clear: The president should leave other treasurers intact as part of our national heritage.
— Information from the Associated Press was used in this article