U.S. Senator Jon Tester this week weighed in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s review of the nation’s national monuments, calling on Secretary Ryan Zinke to leave the Upper Missouri River Breaks the way it is.
In an online video released on Friday, Tester said a two-year review coupled with public input, led Montanans to protect the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
That was nearly 20 years ago, Tester noted. The region now attracts more than 130,000 annual visitors who spend $10 million a year in the state.
“This region has largely remained unchanged since God made it,” Tester says. “Protecting it as a national monument will keep it that way for our kids and grandkids while also guaranteeing clean water and rich hunting and fishing opportunities.”
Tester said nearly 700 Montanans have contacted him with concerns about the Trump administration using the current monument review to roll back public access to the region.
In a July 14 letter, Tester thanked Zinke for his suggestion that he would “likely” recommend keeping the Upper Missouri River Breaks intact.
“On behalf of the many Montanans who have contacted me in support of preserving the Upper Missouri River Breaks, I respectfully urge you to hold the line on your ‘likely’ recommendation to ensure this land remains protected for all Montanans,” Tester said. “Our public lands are tied to Montana’s outdoor heritage and economy, and we cannot afford to undermine either.
Over the past week and before this month’s deadline, Montanans had submitted thousands of comments to the Department of Interior regarding the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, along with dozens of other national monuments scattered across the American West.
President Donald Trump in April directed Zinke to study 27 national monuments created since 1996 to gauge whether their size, boundaries and scope conform to parameters in the Antiquities Act.
The act was signed into law by President Theodore Rosevelt and has been used by 16 presidents, including eight Republicans and eight Democrats over the past 111 years.
“Let’s keep the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument as it is,” Tester said in the new video.