By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration’s call for an opening of U.S. national monuments to economic development has drawn 107,000 comments from the public.
President Donald Trump last month ordered the Interior Department to review some 27 national monuments created since 1996, with an eye to rescinding or shrinking the size of some of them to increase development opportunities.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke gave the public until May 26 to comment on Bears Ears, the country’s newest monument, and until July 10 to comment on the rest.
As of Friday, groups and individuals had posted more than 107,000 comments on a government website created to receive them as part of the review process, a high number given the short time frame.
A Commerce Department call for public comments on regulatory hurdles completed last month drew under 200 comments.
Many industry groups and politicians, including Utah’s governor, two senators and congressman, want Zinke to reverse monument designations and turn over control of the protected lands to states.
Zinke is due to give his recommendation to Trump on Bears Ears on June 10 and publish a report on the other monuments later.
(M)any opponents of the monument designations have posted comments, with some arguing that barring large swaths of land from any development keeps the public from fully enjoying these areas.
“Sweeping monument designations … restrict or eliminate opportunities for responsible off-highway motorized recreation on public lands,” said one anonymous comment, from a self-described member of the American Motorcycle Association.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Tom Brown)