THE SPECTRUM- On Monday, a leaked memo surfaced from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to President Donald Trump recommending the reduction of six national monuments, including Gold Butte National Monument in Southern Nevada.
Gold Butte, which spans nearly 300,000 acres of desert south of Mesquite, was one of 27 monuments Zinke reviewed earlier this year. During his visit to the area, Zinke met Virgin Valley Water District general manager Kevin Brown who requested the water district’s resources be excluded from the monument’s boundaries. The memo did not specify what a reduction would entail.
Here’s what members of Nevada’s federal delegation are saying about it:
Senator Dean Heller
“As a strong proponent of states’ rights, the Obama Administration’s decision to bypass Congress and designate two national monuments in Nevada despite widespread disagreement at the local level is an example of extreme overreach and the failed Washington-knows-best mentality. That is why I welcomed Secretary Zinke to Nevada to see first-hand the impact of monuments designated under the Antiquities Act with no local input. After talking to and meeting with the Secretary several times, I am pleased that he has taken my recommendation to ask the President to modify Gold Butte’s boundaries to allow the Virgin Valley Water District to access its water rights that were lost under the previous Administration. These actions recommended by me and Secretary Zinke prioritize local concerns over the opinion of Washington bureaucrats, and I hope that President Trump will agree with the Secretary.”
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
“The actions of this Administration are threatening over a century’s worth of environmental protections guaranteed by the Antiquities Act. During the Department of the Interior’s review period, 2.3 million Americans demanded that our national monuments be protected for future generations. President Trump needs to listen to their voices.”
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, 4th Congressional District
“The latest leaks from this administration show that once again Secretary Zinke is ignoring the will of Nevadans by recommending that the size of Gold Butte National Monument be reduced. This decision will not only be detrimental to Nevada’s economy and shared cultural heritage, but it is further proof that the monument review process has been rigged from the start. Secretary Zinke promised that Nevadans’ voices would be heard. Instead, we got half-hearted attempts to meet with stakeholders and secret memos cooked up behind closed doors, all when the outcome was predetermined from the beginning. When it comes to altering our monuments and impacting our livelihood, Nevadans deserve more than unofficial leaks and uncorroborated reports. Secretary Zinke should look Nevadans in the eye and give it to us straight, rather than hide behind the administration’s continued shroud of secrecy.”
“Secretary Zinke leaked a memo in the middle of the night because he knows his plan to hack away at monuments like Gold Butte is an overreach opposed by the majority of Americans. Gold Butte’s opponents have created a straw man argument about water rights without mentioning that the monument’s proclamation includes language to protect them. Now we must recommit our effort to protect these precious public lands in the courts and send a strong message to Zinke and Trump to keep their hands off our monuments.”
Rep. Jacky Rosen, 3rd Congressional District (and 2018 Senate candidate)
“After promising an open and transparent process, Secretary Zinke and the Trump Administration are operating in secret and ignoring tens of thousands of Nevadans who said loudly and clearly that they want to protect our National Monuments. No President has unilateral power to revoke a national monument under the Antiquities Act and any decision to redefine protections for Nevada’s national monuments is a blatant overreach. This rash decision by the Trump Administration will not only endanger Nevada’s natural beauty and chip away at our cultural heritage, but it will also hurt our state’s outdoor recreation economy by eliminating jobs that have contributed significantly to our local tourism industry. I’ll continue to stand up to this administration, in every way I can, to protect Nevada’s public lands.”
Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District did not release a statement on Monday.