STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Interior watchdog says Zinke did not improperly redraw monument's border

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his aides did not improperly redraw the boundaries of a national monument ...

Posted: Nov 28, 2018 2:27 AM
Updated: Nov 28, 2018 2:27 AM

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his aides did not improperly redraw the boundaries of a national monument to benefit a Utah state politician, the Interior Department inspector general has concluded.

The department's Inspector General's Office found no evidence linking state Republican Rep. Mike Noel to the redrawing of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument's border, according to a letter from the office summarizing the findings. Public land advocates had alleged the border was gerrymandered to carve out Noel's property and a water pipeline.

Continents and regions

Destinations and attractions

Donald Trump

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Grand Staircase-Escalante

Investigations

National parks and monuments

North America

Parks (green spaces)

Points of interest

Political Figures - US

Politics

Ryan Zinke

Southwestern United States

The Americas

United States

US federal government

Utah

White House

Government organizations - US

US Cabinet

US Department of the Interior

US federal departments and agencies

"We found no evidence that Noel influenced the DOI's proposed revisions to the GSENM boundaries, that Zinke or other DOI staff involved in the project were aware of Noel's financial interest in the revised boundaries, or that they gave Noel any preferential treatment in the resulting proposed boundaries," Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall wrote in a letter to Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt that was obtained by CNN. The full report on the investigation is not yet public. The Associated Press first reported the inspector general's conclusion.

President Donald Trump announced last year that he was accepting Zinke's recommendations and would shrink the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante by about 45% and Bears Ears National Monument by more than 80%.

Zinke wrote in a CNN.com op-ed last December that the redrawn boundaries would "protect these objects of historic or scientific interest while ensuring public access to public land."

The Western Values Project, a public land advocacy group that has also opposed other actions by Trump and Zinke, raised concerns in February about the contours of the redrawn boundary. The group alleged Noel was "using his positions of power to benefit himself" and the regional water district he runs "at the expense of public lands."

The group said Zinke and Noel had met at the water district offices a few months before Zinke made his recommendations and that Noel said in 2015 that he had resigned in 1996 from his job with the Federal Bureau of Land Management in protest over President Bill Clinton's decision to create Grand Staircase-Escalante.

"The redrawn boundary, along with photos of Zinke and Noel together, seem to contradict whatever conclusions have been drawn from this leaked summary," Western Values Project's Chris Saeger said Tuesday. He called for the immediate release of the full report.

On Monday, Noel wrote in a Facebook post, "I neither talked to (Secretary) Zinke or anyone in the agency about the monument boundaries associated with my private property, nor did I receive any favorable treatment regarding my property."

A spokeswoman for the Inspector General's Office, Nancy DiPaolo, said she could not discuss the scope of the investigation.

"The OIG opens investigations based on credible allegations and reports our findings objectively and independently," DiPaolo said in a statement.

The inspector general has two open investigations involving Zinke: one into how his department handled a Connecticut casino project and another involving his conversations with Halliburton Chairman David Lesar about a Montana land development project.

Following a referral from the inspector general, the Justice Department is conducting a probe of whether Zinke used his office for personal gain, two sources familiar with the investigation previously told CNN.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30900

Reported Deaths: 1111
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds249840
DeSoto159416
Madison130034
Jones112449
Neshoba98871
Rankin93412
Harrison91211
Lauderdale90979
Forrest86942
Scott77115
Jackson62216
Copiah60215
Washington5849
Leake57819
Holmes55341
Lee54718
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51518
Yazoo5096
Leflore48751
Grenada4835
Lowndes48313
Lincoln46034
Lamar4587
Pike43112
Monroe40130
Lafayette3914
Sunflower3727
Attala36023
Covington3565
Panola3506
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Simpson3173
Adams31118
Pontotoc2866
Tate28310
Marion28111
Chickasaw27718
Claiborne27410
Noxubee2638
Jasper2626
Winston2616
Pearl River25432
Clay25010
Marshall2323
Smith21811
Clarke20724
Union2079
Coahoma2016
Walthall1995
Kemper17914
Lawrence1772
Yalobusha1707
Carroll16511
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1322
Calhoun1304
Tippah13011
Hancock12813
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George883
Tishomingo801
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn692
Perry664
Stone651
Franklin452
Sharkey370
Benton360
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5221152
Montgomery4127103
Mobile4080134
Tuscaloosa228842
Marshall171110
Madison14307
Lee138437
Shelby128423
Morgan11025
Walker93924
Elmore92514
Franklin89514
Dallas8809
Baldwin8649
Etowah73913
DeKalb7195
Butler63328
Chambers62927
Autauga60712
Tallapoosa59169
Russell5520
Unassigned50323
Houston4964
Limestone4950
Lauderdale4906
Lowndes47221
Cullman4524
Pike4295
Colbert3956
St. Clair3822
Coffee3772
Bullock36910
Covington3587
Calhoun3545
Escambia3506
Barbour3492
Hale31121
Talladega3097
Marengo30211
Wilcox2918
Dale2880
Sumter28512
Clarke2746
Jackson2732
Winston2583
Chilton2462
Blount2351
Monroe2352
Pickens2356
Marion22413
Conecuh2097
Randolph2069
Choctaw19512
Macon1949
Bibb1901
Greene1868
Perry1771
Henry1343
Crenshaw1253
Washington1097
Lawrence1080
Cherokee977
Geneva800
Lamar771
Fayette701
Clay652
Coosa581
Cleburne361
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 82°
Columbus
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 81°
Oxford
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 82°
Starkville
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 78°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather