An Open Letter to Interior Secretary Zinke as He Visits New England


Dear Interior Secretary Zinke:

Welcome to New England! We’re glad you’re visiting New England this week and hope you enjoyed your tour of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. We treasure our national monuments and care deeply about the value they provide. You were able to experience the wondrous views of Mount Katahdin and take in the pristine state of its forests and rivers.

We’re guessing you may never have had the chance to visit had it not become a national monument last year.

Since its designation, Katahdin Woods and Waters Monument has brought hundreds of people like you to the region who otherwise might never have known about it. And interest in the area is only growing.

The monument is already proving an effective way to not only protect a remarkable natural landscape in Maine’s north woods, but also to boost the local economy for the benefit of the people and small towns in the region.

Katahdin Woods and Waters Monument underwent a year-long public process and enjoys overwhelming support locally and throughout the state. In addition to the Maine Congressional delegation’s support for leaving the designation of Katahdin Woods and Waters intact, many of those who initially opposed the designation now support it.

Our country’s national monuments, both on land and at sea, help define who we are by telling the story of our historical, cultural, and natural heritage. As New Englanders, we are proud of them – and we are even more proud to now be home to the region’s first land-based national monument and to the first marine national monument in the U.S. Atlantic.

Like Katahdin Woods and Waters, extensive public input led to the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which is also under review.

This included a year-long period during which people provided input to the Department of Commerce through an online comment portal and went to public meetings attended by government officials. And it involved extensive consultation with dozens of stakeholders, from local businesses to the fishing industry.

The Obama Administration listened to commercial fishermen and reduced the proposed boundaries to the minimum area required to sufficiently protect the scientifically important area, and even grandfathered in lobster and crab fishermen for many years.

Beyond the robust public process, the designation was incredibly popular.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument received more than 300,000 supportive signatures, as well as support from:

  • 100 New England businesses
  • 50 faith leaders
  • 10 aquariums
  • 145 scientists

Further, a 2016 poll conducted by Edge Research found that 80 percent of people living in Massachusetts and Rhode Island supported permanently protecting special places in the ocean. Majority support was sustained across all political affiliations.

Rolling back protections or shrinking the size of New England’s national monuments would not just be unpopular – it would sacrifice some of our region’s most special and vulnerable lands and waters. Any changes to our monuments would put our natural, cultural, and scientific resources at risk.

It is the Interior Department’s obligation to support the protection and conservation of our public lands and waters. New England’s national monuments must remain protected for generations to come and for the benefit of all Americans.

CLF sent an invitation to meet with you while you’re in Boston this week. We would love the opportunity to discuss with you how important our national monuments are to all of us here in New England.

Sincerely,

Conservation Law Foundation

Click here to tell Secretary Zinke to make no changes to New England’s national monuments.

 

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