August 24, 2017

Udall Statement on Secretary Zinke's Monument Review Report

Udall: The report lacks transparency and the threat to New Mexico's monuments is very real; 'Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte National Monuments are economic drivers in New Mexico’s local communities'

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was expected to release a series of recommendations he has made to the White House regarding potential changes to several national monuments across the country, including two in New Mexico — the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte National Monuments. Instead, Secretary Zinke released a short summary of the review process without any details about his proposed recommendations, leaving many questions unanswered. U.S. Senator Tom Udall released the following statement:

"I am disappointed that the summary of Secretary Zinke’s recommendations to the president does not provide any real information to the public. This summary is not transparent and this is not how our government should do business. The threat to New Mexico's monuments is very real. Secretary Zinke cited the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte National Monuments to the press as monuments he may want to alter. So we will continue to press the administration hard to preserve all of our monuments and listen to the voices of thousands of New Mexicans who wrote in and personally met with Secretary Zinke to urge that he maintain protection for these areas.

"New Mexicans have spoken loudly and clearly. They do not want to shrink our national monuments—and they deserve to know what the administration plans to do with the natural treasures they have worked for years to protect. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte National Monuments are economic drivers in New Mexico’s local communities and they protect our rich cultural heritage. Any attempt to reduce protections in New Mexico will be quite unpopular and will undermine these important benefits to our communities.

"If Secretary Zinke has recommended serious reductions to any of our national monuments, he has badly misjudged the authority granted to the administration under the Antiquities Act. I do not believe the administration can legally shrink any monument designation, and I intend to pursue all available avenues to fight what would be an unprecedented attack on our public lands.”