U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has just one month left before he’s due to report on the likely fate of New Mexico’s two newest national monuments, as well as nearly two dozen others around the nation.
New Mexicans on both sides of the debate are getting antsy.
Ultimately, the decision to downsize the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and/or the Rio Grande del Norte national monuments in New Mexico – or not – lies with President Donald Trump. But Trump is waiting on Zinke’s recommendation, due no later than Aug. 24. Zinke told Congress on June 22 he would visit New Mexico to discuss the monuments with concerned parties “in two weeks.” Late Thursday, an Interior Department spokeswoman said the agency, responsible for millions of acres of federal lands, still wasn’t ready to announce Zinke’s visit.
So far in this process, the Interior secretary has not been entirely predictable. In mid-June, he recommended scaling back the size of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. But in the same week he also removed Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho and Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington from his list of monuments under review.