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UPDATE | Official: BLM Not Asked To Fact-Check Secretary Zinke's Monuments Draft


Editor's note: This updates with an Interior Department statement that both the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service were involved in preparation of the monument recommendations document.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's draft report on national monuments he believes should be reduced in size or opened to resource extraction was not run by U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials for fact-checking and contains a number of errors, according to agency officials.

The report, which was leaked to the press Sunday, contained a handful of errors, at least, ranging from where exactly Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is located in relation to the U.S.-Mexico border to whether hunting and fishing are currently allowed on the monument, according to John Ruhs, the acting deputy director of operations for the land-management agency.

Under questioning Tuesday from U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, Mr. Ruhs stressed he had nothing to do with the report.

"I was incredibly concerned in reading the report’s summary on the two monuments in New Mexico to note that there were more than a few simple factual errors included," the senator said during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. "For example, there’s a claim that roads have been closed in Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. I confirmed with BLM staff that that’s not accurate. And that ranchers have stopped ranching there because of those non-existing road closures. Also not true.

"The report says that the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is on or abuts the U.S.–Mexico border. That’s also not true because, on the recommendation of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the boundary of the monument was actually established five miles north of the international border. Actually north of New Mexico 9," the senator added. "Finally, it says that both proclamations need to be amended to protect hunting and fishing rights, when nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve had the opportunity, in fact, to hunt everything from Mearns Quail to Javelina in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

"... These are some pretty basic facts to get wrong. So I have to ask you: Were the local BLM staff, who actually manage these two monuments on the ground on a daily basis, consulted by the secretary’s office regarding the facts on the ground in these monuments that they manage as part of that secretarial process?" asked Sen. Heinrich.

"Senator, I can assure that I myself and the Bureau of Land Management were not part of the writing of the reports," replied Mr. Ruhs.

However, Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said Wednesday via email that both BLM and NPS personnel "were involved in the monument review and extensively participated in and helped organize the tours."

Ms. Swift did not have an immediate comment as to how the errors cited by Sen. Heinrich got into the document.


And we should be surprised that facts weren't checked?  Nope.  Disheartened, yes, but not surprised.

Mr. Ruhs will need to be added to the Endangered Species list now.  You can bet there will be repercussions against his honesty, professionalism and courage on this. 

I hope Mr. Ruhs is eligible to retire after this truth telling because I'm sure our modern day Teddy Roosevelt is not going to take it easy on him.

Well, no kidding. 

The sloppy quality of this report just shows again how poorly staffed the Trump Administration is generally, and the Department of Interior specifically.

Or maybe the sloppiness really reveals contempt for the conservation laws of the United States.

The 'parklandwatch' site carried a post yesterday as evidence that the one NPS national monument, Katahdin Woods and Waters NM, had no National Park Service input.

  ---  When the NPS abbreviates Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the official org code everybody uses is "KAWW."

  ---  This bizarre report makes up its own abbreviation, "KWWNM." Nobody in the National Park Service, the parklandwatch post says, had their hands on this report.

And anyone, like me, who was willing to give the Secretary of the Interior the benefit of the doubt, who thought the jury was out until we saw Mr Zinke's actual monuments recommendations, guess what?

The jury is in.

These recommendations reveal either a staff so toxic they did not seek or value the assistance of the agency professionals or the plain purposes of the US conservation laws, OR, that Mr Zinke himself lacks the knowledge or respect for the public lands of the United States.  Take your pick, this report is either ignorant or evil.


The secretive manner in which this report was prepared, including deliberately excluding affected stakeholders (those who are not in the oil and gas industries), the dishonest rhetoric in its narrative, and the fore-mentioned factual errors are typical of how this Administration is making America great again. Yeah.

Please don't compare Teddy Roosevelt to Trump. He was very much in favor of protecting our national treasures.

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