Reported Attempts to Undermine National Monuments are Out of Touch

Document reveals plans to decimate protections for New England treasures

September 18, 2017 (BOSTON, MA) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement today in response to reports that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended to President Trump the removal of critical protections for the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.

“The president simply does not have the authority to modify these land and ocean treasures,” said CLF Senior Counsel Peter Shelley. “More than 120 legal scholars agree that the purpose of the Antiquities Act is clear: to protect areas of scientific, cultural, or historic value – not to decimate them. Our marine monument – the only one in the Atlantic – protects rare and fragile ocean life and serves as an important deep-sea laboratory that will propel forward our nation’s commitment to scientific understanding and innovation. We intend to continue to fight for full, comprehensive protection of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument on behalf of all New Englanders who rely on a healthy ocean.”

CLF Maine Director, Sean Mahoney, added, “Allowing commercial logging within the borders of the Katahdin Woods and Waters monument defies longstanding legal precedent and the will of Mainers throughout our state. Secretary Zinke’s ‘review’ was as unnecessary and irresponsible as the recommendations it makes.”

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument was created by President Obama one year ago this month – on September 15, 2016. CLF was joined by business and faith leaders, environmental partners, and commercial and recreational fishermen in advocating for the full protection of this vital resource.

“As a recreational fisherman, removing the protections of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument is deeply concerning for the future health of this fragile and diverse habitat,” said Rip Cunningham, recreational fisherman and member of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee. “With this decision, it’s clear that the science on which these protections were established may not be the priority of the Trump Administration.”

CLF experts and other local stakeholders are available for further comment.