This is the first post in a series of blog posts about the Trump Administration’s attacks on our public lands. Read the second post here.
UPDATE: August 25, 2017
Yesterday, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted a report to the White House with recommendations to change the boundaries of at least three national monuments, including Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Changes to other national monument boundaries and designations included in the report are still unknown.
In response, Wildlands Network has issued the following statement:
“Any attempt to shrink the national monuments that celebrate our shared natural heritage is a loss for the American people and the local communities that worked so hard to gain national recognition and protection for these special places,” said Katie Davis, western director for Wildlands Network.
“National monuments are critically important to native wildlife and, in some cases, are the best way to preserve key corridors for wildlife movement. Instead of building upon conservation success to create a better future for people and wildlife, the Secretary has apparently chosen to take a huge step backward by recommending we sacrifice our shared values and spaces to cater to select special interests. Wildlands Network will continue to support efforts of our regional and national partners to defend our conservation progress and public lands for humans and wildlife.”
Read our original blog on the issue below.
Defend Our National Monuments
On April 26, President Trump signed an executive order instructing Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review all national monuments created since Jan. 1, 1996 and spanning at least 100,000 acres.
This radical executive order, which allows for a sweeping review of 27 protected places, is an attack on all public lands. Now is the time to raise our voices and take action to protect these imperiled places and the wildlife relying on them for their existence.
We have until July 10 to submit comments to Secretary Zinke, telling him that our national monuments are worth saving.
Protecting Bears Ears and Beyond
While the executive order doesn’t specifically repeal any national monument designations, it does cast doubt on the status of 27 national monuments—including Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument (protected by Barack Obama only last year), whose immeasurable ecological value is complemented by 100,000 irreplaceable archaeological and cultural sites. The comment period for Bears Ears ends on May 26, well before the July 10 closing date for the other listed monuments.
Trump’s executive order also allows Secretary Zinke to review monument designations he believes were made with insufficient input, effectively putting monuments of all shapes and sizes at risk. In short, this review undermines one of America’s most important conservation tools.
With this review, Trump aims to “end another egregious use of government power,” referring to the Antiquities Act of 1906, which allows presidents to safeguard and preserve U.S. public lands and cultural and historic sites for all Americans to enjoy.
Sixteen presidents — 8 Republican and 8 Democrat — have used the Antiquities Act to protect such culturally and historically significant landmarks as Grand Canyon and Acadia national parks. Trump’s review includes monuments designated not only by Barack Obama but also by George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Public Lands are Critical to Connectivity
Wildlands Network sees Trump’s review of national monuments for what it is: an attack on our wild places. The review fundamentally counters our mission to promote human coexistence with the land and its wild inhabitants.
Our connectivity goals – essential to the health of our ecosystems – depend on protected wildlands as the building blocks of wildlands networks across the continent. Such expansive, wild spaces give carnivores and other wide-ranging animals room to roam freely, while also facilitating the natural processes like fire, carbon storage, and animal migrations that keep our planet alive and well.
Of course, humans also depend on national monuments and other protected wildlands for spiritual enrichment, outdoor recreation, and connecting with our natural heritage.
Wildlands Network is committed to protecting and connecting public lands in North America so that life in all its diversity can thrive. We can’t functionally reconnect these lands if they aren’t protected.
URGENT: Lend Your Voice to Our National Monuments
At this moment, your voice carries a lot of weight. The time to use it is now! We have very limited time to act on behalf of our sacred national monuments. Once again, the deadlines for public comments are:
Bears Ears National Monument: Saturday, May 26 (EXTENDED TO JULY 10 as of June 16, 2017)
Other listed national monuments: Monday, July 10
Click the button below to take action for our wild places, our national monuments, and our shared natural heritage.
More than 150 monuments protect America’s cultural, historical, and natural heritage for future generations. Since the inception of the Antiquities Act in 1906, no other president in history has attempted to reverse a predecessor’s national monument designation. Take action now to protect our wild places so that President Trump isn’t the first.