Interior Secretary Zinke visiting Mass.

  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talks with reporters at the Katahdin Woods And Waters National Monument near Staceyville, Maine, Wednesday. ap photo

State House News Service
Published: 6/15/2017 8:37:39 PM

When Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visits the Boston area on Friday, environmentalists plan to greet him by rallying for the preservation of national monuments that are under review by the Trump administration.

The former Montana congressman has an 11 a.m. press event at a Legal Sea Foods location, according to his office. The Bay State visit could also afford the interior secretary a chance to meet with the state’s top Republican, Gov. Charlie Baker, although nothing has been announced.

The fishing industry opposed President Barack Obama’s 2016 designation of a marine monument on a roughly 4,900 square-mile area south of Cape Cod.

State Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton told the News Service in May that he hopes there will be modifications to the monument, which restricts fishing in the area about 150 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, but did not specify his preferences.

Environmentalists worry the review ordered by President Donald Trump in April could be a precursor to rolling back restrictions on natural lands and waters.

According to a Zinke press aide, today the secretary will meet with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official and officials from the New England Aquarium about marine wildlife around the monument. The secretary will then attend a roundtable meeting with lobstermen and fishermen about the impact of the monument designation on their industry.

The secretary will join the National Park Service for a tour of Boston Harbor and a number of park sites in the afternoon, according to the aide. The oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy, the U.S.S. Constitution, is overseen by the Navy in cooperation with the National Parks Service at the old Charlestown Navy Yard. Zinke’s visit will also coincide with the opening ceremony of Sail Boston, a highly secured event expected to draw scores of onlookers.

Aides to Baker and Beaton did not respond to questions about whether the Bay State officials would be meeting with the cabinet secretary.

The Sierra Club, which is organizing a 1 p.m. “Save Our Public Lands” rally on the State House steps, supports Obama’s designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine Monument.

The Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) Action Fund on Thursday launched a campaign “engaging people in their communities, in the halls of power, and online” to keep the marine monument designation. The campaign will involve organizers “hitting the streets” at farmers markets and other events, calls to environmental supporters, and ads on Twitter and Facebook, according to the organization.

“It is essential to protect these areas in order to maintain healthy New England ecosystems and preserve the lands for future generations,” said Joe O’Brien, political director for ELM, in a statement.

The Habitat Committee of the New England Fishery Management Council, which helps regulate the fishing industry, recommended the council submit a formal comment about for the marine monument review. The full council will meet in Portland, Maine next Thursday to discuss the committee’s recommendation.

“The councils are the ones that are involved in opening and closing areas to fishing so we really want a seat at the table” of the review, Council Chairman John Quinn told the News Service last month.

Zinke this week has been on a four-day swing through New England, visiting New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut before today’s visit to Boston.

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