New EO to review large national monuments, including Hanford Rea - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New EO to review large national monuments, including Hanford Reach

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MATTAWA, WA - President Trump signed an executive order yesterday giving authority to the Department of the Interior to review national monuments created since 1996 that are larger than 100,000 acres. The Hanford Reach National Monument is on that list of sites eligible to be reviewed.

Hanford Reach is just one of dozens of sites potentially affected by this new executive order. The Department of the Interior released a statement on the EO, citing what it calls government overreach of the Antiquities Act of 1906; which states national monuments be designated with the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

Some national monuments consist of more than a million acres.

But skeptics like Environment Washington Executive Director Bruce Speight say the designations for these large pieces of land - like Hanford Reach - are in place to protect the environment from mining, drilling, and other activities considered harmful to the environment. This is why reconsidering these designations is concerning.

"Here in America, one of our values and one of the things we treasure the most is the natural beauty that we have," said Speight. "So natural parks and natural monuments are one of the tools we have to make sure that we are protecting those areas for us as Americans to enjoy, and for others."

Hanford Reach National Monument was created by President Clinton in 2000, and consists of almost 200,000 acres...including both sides of the Columbia River.

It's one of only two national monuments in the country administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Department of the Interior's statement says this executive order doesn't actually change anything at the parks and doesn't take away any designations, it just gives them the authority to look into making changes in the future.