Environment

Fate of Río Grande del Norte National Monument unsure

Feds delay naming names of monuments to be reduced in size

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The fate of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument here in Taos Countywas still unknown Friday afternoon (Aug. 25) after U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke delivered a recommendation on 27 national monuments to President Donald Trump.

The four-month review of recently designated national monuments and those over 100,000 acres in size was ordered by Trump in April.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in Doña Ana Couny, created in 2014 by President Barack Obama, was included in the review along with the Río Grande del Norte, established in 2013.

Zinke released a two-page summery of the report Thursday (Aug. 24).

While Zinke has stated he's not recommending the president eliminate any national monuments, the summery contained no specific details about any monument. Some politicians and environmental groups have challenged the president's legal authority to change the monuments.  

"[Public] comments received were overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining existing monuments and demonstrated a well- orchestrated national campaign organized by multiple organizations," the report summary read.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall criticized the report's scant details.

"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," Udall said via a press release Thursday.

"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," Udall said.

Zinke's review was often showy and included a horseback trip to the Sabinoso Wilderness with Udall and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, both Democrats.

This story will be updated as more informaton becomes available. Pick up the Aug. 31 edition of The Taos News also for more on this story.

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