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Friday August 23rd, 2019 5:03AM

The Latest: Environmental groups blast monument changes

By The Associated Press
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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on a review of possible changes for U.S. national monuments protecting wilderness and ocean (all times local):

11:15 a.m.

Environmental groups are roundly condemning recommendations for changes to some U.S. national monuments.

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's review of the national monuments "has been a complete sham" and a pretext for "selling out our public lands and waters" to the oil industry and others.

Ben Schreiber, senior political strategist at Friends of the Earth, says Zinke's action is illegal and "he can rest assured that his latest giveaway to corporate polluters will be litigated in the courts."

And Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, is urging President Donald Trump to "ignore these illegal and dangerous recommendations and instead act to preserve these beloved places."

Twenty-seven monuments have been under review.

Zinke told The Associated Press he was not recommending that any be eliminated but that there would be changes to a "handful" without disclosing details.

___

10:55 a.m.

A White House official says President Donald Trump has received U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's recommendations about national monuments protecting wilderness and ocean.

The official says Trump is reviewing Zinke's "recommendations to determine the best path forward for the American people."

The official was not authorized to publicly discuss a draft report and insisted on anonymity.

Zinke told The Associated Press Thursday he's recommending none of 27 national monuments be eliminated.

But he says there would be changes to a "handful."

— By Darlene Superville

___

10:15 a.m.

A recommendation not to eliminate any of 27 U.S. national monuments protecting wilderness and ocean has not alleviated concerns from conservation and tribal groups advocating for total preservation.

Gavin Noyes of Utah's tribal coalition Dine Bikeyah that pushed to preserve the Bears Ears National Monument on tribal lands in southeastern Utah says it is prepared to launch a legal fight against even a slight reduction in that monument's size.

Defenders of Wildlife vice president of landscape conservation Mark Salvo says downsizing any national monuments would have a negative impact on fish, wildlife and plants.

He criticized U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for not making public a list of recommendations about the monuments.

___

9 a.m.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he's recommending that none of 27 national monuments carved from wilderness and ocean and under review by the Trump administration be eliminated.

But there would be changes to a "handful," he said.

Zinke told The Associated Press that unspecified boundary adjustments for some monuments designated over the past four decades will be included in the recommendations he planned to give President Donald Trump on Thursday. None of the sites would revert to new ownership, he said, while public access for uses such as hunting, fishing or grazing would be maintained or restored.

He also spoke of protecting tribal interests and historical land grants, pointing to monuments in New Mexico, where Hispanic ranchers have opposed two monuments proclaimed by President Barack Obama.

Zinke declined to say whether portions of the monuments would be opened up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries for which Trump has advocated.

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