WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) wrote Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to request information about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) role in the Trump Administration’s ongoing review of certain national monuments containing acreage managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Stabenow serves as Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, and Bennet holds the same position on the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources.
In April, President Trump signed an Executive Order requiring Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in coordination with Secretary Perdue and others, to review 27 national monuments that were designated by previous presidents, going back to January 1, 1996. Last week, Secretary Zinke released an interim report on the review of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, which contained a recommendation to revise the Monument’s boundaries. The Monument contains nearly 300,000 acres of forested highlands as part of the Manti La-Sal National Forest, including several sites that hold cultural significance to Native American tribes. Under the recommendations of the interim report, some or all of this protected acreage could be removed from the Monument’s boundaries.
Due to the significance of this monument review for national forest lands, the Senators wrote Secretary Perdue to ask questions about the role USDA played in the interim review and corresponding report, and the role the Department will play in the reveiw of other monuments containing Forest Service lands. The Senators also asked whether the Administration would be seeking legal authority if it chooses to carry out the recommendations in the June 10 interim report.
The full text of the letter is below. A PDF of the letter is available here.
Dear Secretary Perdue,
We write to seek information regarding USDA’s involvement in the Department of Interior’s review of national monuments whose boundaries include acreage managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). On April 26, 2017 President Trump signed Executive Order 13792, requiring a review of certain national monuments established since January 1, 1996. The Executive Order gives USDA a coordinating role in this review. The review, which is being led by Secretary of Interior Zinke, includes several national monuments that are partially or wholly comprised of acreage managed by the USFS. Secretary Zinke issued an interim report on the Bears Ears National Monument (BENM) in Utah on June 10, 2017 and a final report on all the national monuments under consideration is due on August 24, 2017. Given USDA’s assigned role under the Executive Order, please respond to the following:
Thank you for your consideration of this important issue and prompt response to our letter.