Washington DC—President Donald Trump will not permit public gatherings within 100 miles of the world’s highest peak in the United States, a decision that would effectively end any chance of a national monument designation in the West.
Trump’s decision to halt public gatherings on Mt.
Rainier and Mt.
Washington, which is a national park and monument, comes after he repeatedly failed to sign off on a proclamation in April allowing public access to the national monument.
Trump has also said he would not sign off as an advocate for the monument designation, instead relying on the recommendation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a retired Army general.
“It is the president’s policy to protect public lands and resources from unnecessary and disruptive development,” Zinke said in a statement.
“It is a simple matter to create a new, comprehensive national monument that reflects the unique conditions of our region.”
Trump has made clear he is not interested in creating a national monuments designation.
He said he “won’t sign off” on a proposal that would allow public access at the popular sites, including the Mount Rushmore monument and the Grand Canyon.
Trump’s refusal to sign the proclamation in May prompted a lawsuit from Native American groups and environmentalists, who said it was a direct violation of the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law that requires the president to consult with the American Indian tribes.
“President Trump and the White House are taking a step back from the nation’s best-loved national monument designations,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, senior counsel for the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a prepared statement.
The proclamation Trump is blocking was created in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, in which Trump defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and vowed to protect the monuments and their lands.
The proclamation also stated that the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “is the cornerstone of a new national vision for the country and the world.”
The United States is the only country in the world that has both a national and state park system, Diffenbach said.
It is also the only one of the six nations in the Americas to be a “nation of nations,” which means it has a treaty system that gives it the authority to set national park boundaries.
In a separate statement, the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia applauded the decision.
“The decision to revoke President Trump’s authority to create the monument and deny Americans their rights to peaceful protest and protest is a victory for public access, civil liberties and the rule of law,” said ACLU of the D.C. deputy legal director Annette King.
“We will continue to fight for a new way to protect our parks and monuments and support efforts to preserve and protect these lands and waters.”
Read moreTrump’s cancellation of the proclamation has drawn praise from the Sierra Club, which has vowed to sue the president if the proclamation is reinstated.
“With his unprecedented lack of engagement on the issue of protecting our national monuments, the president has done nothing but ignore our best-known protections for our nation’s wilderness, parks and wildlife,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Matt Rinaldi.
“Now more than ever, we need President Trump to act to protect America’s wild places from the encroachment of corporate polluters and to restore the American dream.”
The president’s decision also comes amid protests over the closure of several popular tourist sites, from the popular Washington Monument to the famous Mount Rushmores, including Mt.
Everest and the Seven Sisters mountain range.
Trump also closed down the iconic Arch of Triumph, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the U.S. Capitol.
The Trump administration has also moved to halt the construction of a $7 billion coal-mining facility at the Mount Rainier National Recreation Area, which was proposed by developer TCL Energy.
Trump said he planned to veto any legislation that would support the project.
In addition to public access restrictions, the Trump administration announced a series of other restrictions on national monuments that have drawn opposition from local and state governments.
In April, the U: Department of the Interior said that the White Houses management of national monuments must be “fully transparent, accurate, and unbiased.”
The department added that the “best interest” of the public is a key consideration when considering decisions about monument design.
In August, the Interior Department said that it would be working with local governments, conservation groups and state and local officials to identify and implement a plan to mitigate any impact on local businesses and residents.