Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke once again hinted Tuesday that he won’t advise President Donald Trump to get rid of Maine’s national monument.
Speaking this time to U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Zinke predicted that both Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument’s supporters and its opponents will be “enthusiastic” about the recommendations he will make to President Trump on Aug. 24.
“I am sure you are going to be enthusiastic about the recommendation as well as the governor,” Zinke said Tuesday. “I have talked to the governor, and I think we have a reasonable approach with the recommendation that all parties will be satisfied with.”
King supports the monument, which was created last year by President Obama. Gov. Paul LePage is a vocal opponent.
Zinke visited Maine last week as part of the Trump administration’s review of 27 monuments created by presidential decree during Democratic administrations.
It is unclear whether presidents have the legal power to rescind monument designations. Congress clearly can do that through legislation.
Katahdin’s supporters, including King, claim that visitors to the 87,562-acre monument east of Baxter State Park will help the region’s economy and preserve a rich cultural and historic area of the north woods.
Critics, including LePage, have said that the monument lacks preservation-worthy features and that the designation came despite intense local opposition.
Zinke toured Katahdin Woods on Wednesday and met with supporters and opponents on Thursday. He said then that he doubted he would recommend that Katahdin Woods be downsized but that he might recommend that Congress upgrade it to a national park.
Zinke said during Tuesday’s hearing that his tour of Katahdin Woods revealed that it lacked adequate infrastructure and personnel — not surprising, given that monument supervisors have said it will take three years to shape its management plan.
“There is only one superintendent there,” Zinke said. “You can add one superintendent plus one detail person.”
King also spoke of Maine’s Acadia National Park during testimony, encouraging Zinke to keep the park’s advisory board. Zinke said that he is reviewing whether to suspend the National Park Service’s 220 advisory boards as a cost-saving measure. Acadia’s can be maintained if its members seek an exemption, Zinke said.