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Donovan urges resistance to Zinke plan to ‘modify’ protections for national monuments

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September 20, 2017, 10:28 am
Natural-Bridges-National-Monument.-Utah.-Photo-Jacob-W-Frank-(NPS)_WEB

Natural Bridges National Monument could see less federal protection and be impacted by nearby oil and gas drilling under a new executive action by President Donald Trump.

State Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Democrat from Vail, has been getting ready to do battle to preserve federally-owned public lands in Colorado for most of the current calendar year.

Kerry Donovan

State Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail

Back in January, Donovan told RealVail.com she was concerned there would be an assault on federal control by Republicans, with a push for greater state control and more mining, logging and oil and gas drilling. That battle didn’t materialize in the State Legislature last session, where Dems still control the House and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper still has veto power.

But now the former Vail Town Council member says the biggest threat is coming out of Washington itself, specifically from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who, according to a leaked memo obtained by the Washington Post, wants to change how at least 10 national monuments are managed, allowing activities that are currently restricted.

“There are very disturbing signals being sent by the administration in Washington, D.C. on how they view public lands. Between Secretary Zinke’s memo to the president, and the ‘Federal Land Freedom Act’ in Congress, it is clear that politicians are working harder than ever to roll back protections so many of us believe in,” Donovan said in a press release.

“Once we move backward, we cannot repair the damage that is possible under these new recommendations. These lands belong to all Americans and we must be one voice proclaiming how important public land protections are. While none of the proposed changes are in Colorado, we could be next and that is why it is important to send a clear message today,” Donovan added.

Zinke recommends four national monuments, including nearby Bears Ears in Utah, should have their boundaries revised — meaning shrunk significantly. Bears Ears, which contains the iconic Natural Bridges National Monument, was designated by former President Barack Obama in December. It’s a favorite recreational playground for Colorado Western Slope residents, and Zinke wants to open it up to more mining and drilling.

“Here in Colorado, thousands of jobs and small businesses, and billions of dollars in economic activity are supported by public lands,” Donovan said. “They help us live and they are what we live for. Public lands are in the very fabric of our state’s identity and way of life, and we need to preserve them for future generations.”

Donovan’s signature achievement during the 2016 legislative session was a bill that set up Colorado Public Lands Day to recognize and maintain the current system of federal land management in Colorado, where about a third of the state is owned by the federal government. She’s opposed to any legislation at the state or national level that chips away at the current management system or turns over federal lands to the states.

The Federal Land Freedom Act is a bill being pushed through Congress that would roll-back federal protections of public lands, allowing for privatization and industrial development of protected lands like state parks and open spaces, according to Donovan’s press release.

Contact information for Colorado’s congressional delegation:

Senate

Michael Bennet, Democrat

261 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5852

Contact: www.bennet.senate.gov/?p=contact

Cory Gardner, Republican

354 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5941

Contact: www.gardner.senate.gov/contact-cory/email-cory

House of Representatives

District 1 – Diane DeGette, Democrat

2111 Rayburn House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-4431

Contact: https://degette.house.gov/contact

District 2 – Jared Polis, Democrat

1727 Longworth House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-2161

Contact: https://polis.house.gov/contact/

District 3 – Scott Tipton, Republican

218 Cannon House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-4761

Contact: https://tipton.house.gov/contact/email

District 4 – Ken Buck, Republican

1130 Longworth House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-4676

Contact: https://buck.house.gov/contact

District 5 – Doug Lamborn, Republican2402 Rayburn House Office BuildingU.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515(202) 225-4422Contact: https://lamborn.house.gov/contact/

District 6 – Mike Coffman, Republican

2443 Rayburn House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-7882

Contacts: https://coffman.house.gov/contact/

District 7 – Ed Perlmutter, Democrat

1410 Longworth House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-2645

Contacts: https://perlmutter.house.gov/forms/writeyourrep/

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, SKI Magazine, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), Ski Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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