- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The Interior Department has removed any question over whether it’s going to review the creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.

The agency announced Friday it’s getting the review rolling by seeking public comments starting May 12. The Interior Department is reviewing a slew of monuments because of their sizes - greater than 100,000 acres. It’s focusing on 87,500-acre Katahdin Woods and Waters because of concerns about adequate public input.

Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who opposes the monument, tweeted his approval, saying: “Yes it’s on The List.”

The list focuses on monuments in the western states, and includes 22 monuments on federal land in 11 states and five marine monuments in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. One of the marine monuments is the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument opposed by many New England fishermen.

“Today’s action, initiating a formal public comment process finally gives a voice to local communities and states when it comes to Antiquities Act monument designations,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said. “There is no pre-determined outcome on any monument.”

The Maine monument is the only one on the list that the Interior Department specifically said it is reviewing to determine whether the designation was made without “adequate public outreach and coordination from relevant stakeholders.”

Lucas St. Clair, the public face of the monument effort in Maine, disputed the notion that the public wasn’t consulted. He said he’s confident that a fair and transparent review “will demonstrate how important public input was to helping improve the monument idea.”

Environmentalists were quick to condemn the government’s review of the monument. The Natural Resources Council of Maine defended the monument, declared by Democratic President Barack Obama last year, as a chance to bring jobs and tourism to rural Maine.

“The news of the executive order has already caused businesses that were poised for investment to pull back,” said Cathy Johnson, Forest Project Director for the council.

Republican President Donald Trump announced an executive order calling for a review of monuments last week.

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