Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., took a break from Beltway duties to fish in the Rio Grande July 21 with supporters of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. It is part of a devoted effort by Udall, his colleague Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. and others to protect the state's newest national monuments, created under former President Barack Obama.
The U.S.Department of Interior is reviewing most of the monuments designated under the Obama administration with an eye to rolling back protections or reducing the size of the protected areas. Those reviews include the Rio Grande del Norte and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, all in New Mexico.
According to his communications staff, "Udall has been leading a coordinated effort – with other members of Congress and engaged people across New Mexico and the country – to rally public opposition against President Trump's threat to rescind or shrink Rio Grande del Norte and other national monuments.
"Sen. Udall has repeatedly called on the Trump administration to drop its misguided attack on public lands, and has expressed his clear position that President Trump does not have the legal authority to rescind or shrink a monument designation," according to an email from Udall's staff.
Udall is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Interior Department's budget. Udall has talked about the monument review one-on-one with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke three times. He has urged Zinke to end this unprecedented attack on national monuments, said staff.
Meanwhile, Zinke is beginning to unveil his decisions on the monuments under review. He announced earlier this week that there would be no change to the Canyon of the Ancients monument in Colorado.
Zinke suggested in interviews with media in June that he might leave the New Mexico monuments alone.