Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's recommendation to scale back Utah's Bears Ears National Monument may pose less of a threat to Southern Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument than supporters fear.
For one thing, Bears Ears is far larger — 1.35 million acres compared with a little over 100,000 in the Cascade-Siskiyou. Carving out some portions of the larger monument would be easier to do, and could probably be accomplished with less effect on the monument as a whole.
For another, Bears Ears was created to protect archeological sites and artifacts in fixed locations. The Cascade-Siskiyou expansion was intended to protect animal and plant habitats that shift across the landscape, and to connect habitats that had been separated by non-monument land.
Zinke's rationale for review is based on language in the Antiquities Act requiring that monuments be the "smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected." That's one thing when the objects are artifacts, and quite another when the "objects" are living species that don't stay in one place.
Furthermore, the Cascade-Siskiyou expansion was smaller than scientists recommended, so it's already been scaled down.
It's not clear that the president has the power to single-handedly undo a monument designation, and Zinke's proposal to ask Congress to modify rules for portions of Bears Ears might be better than leaving it up to the White House.
Still, this administration is determined to undo what previous presidents put in place. The future of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is far from assured.