Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Utah).
Credit: Jack Brauer.
You've probably already seen the news stories. Because of a radical executive order from President Trump, places like Utah’s stunning Bears Ears National Monument are under “review.” The initial salvo targets monuments that are 100,000 acres or larger designated since 1996--plus several other meeting vague, subjective criteria. These range from rare wildlife habitat to Native American archaeological ruins—27 in all immediately at-risk.
And with this initial assault, all bets are off. Trump could be laying the legal groundwork for attacks on virtually any national monument in America. This administration has set a precedent that protections for our shared history, culture and natural treasures are not necessarily permanent, even though they were explicitly instituted that way.
Your time to speak out
This is the first time the Department of the Interior has ever been asked to weigh in on whether monuments deserve their full protected status. Our shared lands are on the line like never before--from mighty sequoia forests to ancient ruins.
Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument (Montana). Photo: Bob Wick (BLM), flickr.
But from now until July 10 we have a window when we can submit comments and tell Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke these places are worth saving (with the exception of Bears Ears whose deadline was May 26). At this moment, your voice carries a lot of weight. Please speak up!
Bears Ears is on the docket first. It is considered one of the most "endangered" historical sites in America, and Native American tribes petitioned President Obama to give it monument protection. But Trump and anti-public lands lawmakers have attacked it ferociously, and now Bears Ears is in trouble.
Giant Sequoia National Monument (California). Photo: Melissa Wiese, flickr.