Environmental activists gathered in a fake ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday to protest Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s proposal to downsize a massive national monument that spans northern California and southern Oregon by naming a public toilet after him.
According to the Eureka Times-Standard, the Humboldt County environmental groups chose “to give a Zinke a monument of his own: a toilet,” in response to his plan to “downsize the more than 170,000-acre Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon and California to allow more timber harvesting.”
The Times-Standard reported:
“We’re doing this to call out Secretary Zinke for his bad actions, to let him know that his idea stinks,” Environmental Protection Information Center [EPIC] Executive Director Tom Wheeler said.
Standing before the vault toilet at the Ma-le’l Dunes’ south entrance in Manila on Saturday morning, representatives of the Northcoast Environmental Center and EPIC cut a ribbon with a giant pair of scissors to mark the occasion.
As the bathroom is Bureau of Land Management property, the wood plaque bearing Zinke’s name was removed after the ceremony. But Wheeler said he hopes using a “Zinke” will catch on.
Zinke announced in September a proposal to shrink six of the 29 national monuments designated by President Barack Obama alone, and 10 of the 117 others, according to a Breitbart News story last month. President Trump called for the review earlier this year, complaining the monuments were nothing more than “improper ‘land grabs’ by former presidents, including Barack Obama.”
The Cascade-Siskiyou is not the only national monument in the West to be targeted. Zinke’s plan would also scale back two massive monuments in Utah — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — where, unlike California, almost two-thirds of Utah residents polled oppose the restrictions on hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.
Additionally, the proposed changes would affect Nevada’s Gold Butte; as well as allow logging at a newly designated monument in Maine; and encourage more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico. Zinke has ordered the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks in southern New Mexico be reviewed for safety concerns, since other national monuments located in the U.S.-Mexico border region became infamous a decade ago when the National Park Service closed hundreds of thousands of acres, posting warning signs that they were too dangerous for park visitors and were being used as smuggling routes for drug cartels.
The visitor center at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which is located on the border in Arizona, is now named after a 28-year-old Border Patrol agent, Kris Eggle, who was murdered in the park by cartel smugglers in 2002.
Trump’s move to amend boundaries is not unique; it has been done 18 times in the past, according to the National Park Service.