WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Wednesday that he is open to keeping two new national monuments in New Mexico in their current configuration, although he has recommended scaling back Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and is considering similar changes to others.
The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument near Las Cruces and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico are both on a list of 27 monuments Zinke is reviewing for possible changes.
In response to questioning from Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., during a hearing on the Interior Department budget on Wednesday, Zinke said if state and community leaders are happy with the current configuration of the New Mexico monuments, he’ll leave them alone. But he also did not rule out changes.
“I do not want to rip a Band-aid off of a monument that is settled,” Zinke said. “I will talk to the governor and the congressional representatives and I will talk to the county commissions …and if it is settled and people are happy with it, I find no reason to recommend any changes.
“There might be a recommended change on a proclamation (designating the monument) if the community feels the proclamation is too stringent,” he added.