The Trump administration has scrapped a proposal to sell land protected within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument following public outrage, ThinkProgress reports.
On Friday, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said it canceled all plans to dispose of 1,600 acres of land to private interests.
David Bernhardt, the agency’s deputy secretary, sent a memo to BLM staff reversing the proposed land disposal. He reportedly wrote that the plan is “inconsistent” with Interior Department policy.
A senior Interior Department official told the Salt Lake Tribune that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke “did not see the proposal before it went out and was not happy about it.” Zike has pledged on several occasions that he will never to put public lands up for sale including at his confirmation hearing in January 2017.
Environmental groups were not convinced that the planned land disposal in Utah was a mistake. “We believe the Department only walked it back because those who are closely reading the management plans brought this to light,” said Nicole Croft, executive director of the nonprofit group Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners, which works to protect the landscape and wildlife habitats of the national monument.
The Sierra Club also issued a statement calling the agency’s plan to sell off public lands as “Zinke’s dirty scheme” and claimed that “some of the land slated for sale is adjacent to land owned by an avid Trump supporter and a current Republican lawmaker in Utah.”
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