- The Washington Times - Friday, July 21, 2017

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Friday he’s completed a review of Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and will recommend to President Trump that no changes be made to its boundaries.

The Colorado decision is part of a broader study of more than 20 national monuments across the country ordered by the president earlier this year. The highly controversial review — cast by environmentalists and Democrats as little more than a pretext to open up more federal land to energy exploration — is the first of its kind in American history, and Mr. Zinke has said many monuments, such as Utah’s Bears Ears, are far bigger than they need to be and that former President Obama may have overstepped his authority in creating them in the first place.

The secretary already has recommended downsizing Bears Ears, though a detailed plan has yet to be released.

But in the case of Canyons of the Ancients, Mr. Zinke said the 178,000-acre national monument deserves to remain as is.

“Canyons of the Ancients​ ​is​ gorgeous land, but its monument status as the most high-density Native American archaeological sites in the Nation​ is clear. The history at this site spans thousands of years, and the federal protection of these objects and history ​will help us preserve this site for a thousand more years,” the secretary said in a statement.

Environmentalists praised Friday’s move but still attacked the broader review as an existential threat to the country’s most beautiful natural treasures.

“Beautiful and protected places like the Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado should have never been under federal review for modifications in the first place.” said Diana Best, a senior climate campaigner with Greenpeace. “The Interior Department’s juvenile process of tweeting which national monuments have escaped losing protected status is behavior fit for ‘The Bachelor,’ not the United States government.”

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