Secretary of the Interior details national monument review proce - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Secretary of the Interior details national monument review process

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Gold Butte could lose its federal designation. (FOX5) Gold Butte could lose its federal designation. (FOX5)
PAHRUMP, NV (FOX5) -

During a stop in Pahrump, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke detailed how his department is reviewing and evaluating national monuments. 

It comes after President Donald Trump tasked the department with reviewing national monuments across the country earlier this year. The list of landmarks included the two in Nevada: Basin and Range and Gold Butte National Monuments.

After the review, some national monuments could be made smaller or lose their designation altogether. 

"I want to make sure the boundaries and borders are set, so I can actually protect and preserve the antiquities," Zinke said about his responsibility. 

Environmentalists argue without federal protection, the lands will be vandalized and fall into disrepair. 

"Public lands and national monuments are part of our shared heritage, they protect the most important ecosystems and species in Nevada and they provide recreational opportunities for Nevada citizens," Patrick Donnelly said. Donnelly was protesting outside of the Pahrump community center where Zinke was speaking. 

But the monuments' opponents say the designations are the textbook example of government overreach. 

"I believe that the land is for the people and the state should run as much as possible." 

On Monday, Zinke gave insight into the review process. He told FOX5 the department is still in the early stages of reviewing Basin and Range and Gold Butte. 

"I have a stack of maps and a stack of comments on them, so I'm reading through," Zinke explained. "But these monuments are important enough for me to go out and see personally." 

The sites are two of the eight monuments Zinke plans to see firsthand. He will be returning to Nevada for those tours in late July. The department has to give its suggestions to President Trump by mid-August.

What happens after that? Zinke said he doesn't know for sure. 

"It is unknown whether the president has the authority to rescind a monument, that has never been tested in court," he said. "What is known is the President certainly has the authority to amend or modify a monument."

Zinke said a big part of the process is hearing concerns from people involved, and people can express their opinions at regulations.gov. 

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