Trump administration doubles down on illegal, unprecedented assault on protected public lands

Dec 5, 2017

Gold Butte National Monument

Photo by Mason Cummings
The Wilderness Society strongly denounces recommendations by the Trump administration to strip protections from even more national monument lands that are owned by all Americans.

Some members of Congress have joined in, proposing legislation to support these attacks on public lands.

The following statement is from Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society:

“Yesterday, we saw the largest ever stripping of protections for America’s publicly owned lands, with losses at two national monuments in Utah. This decision was made behind closed doors with virtually no public participation. Today, President Trump and Secretary Zinke are doubling down on their illegal and unpopular attack on public lands and waters by proposing to rip away protections from even more of America’s favorite places in the Nevada desert and the lush forests of Oregon and Northern California. Contrary to their claims, the Trump administration is ignoring countless local communities and undoing the thoughtful participation that led to the creation of these monuments. Some of the management changes recommended by the Trump administration would reduce these places to ‘monuments in name only.’ National monuments and other protected public lands fuel local economies and conserve places valued for their natural or historic significance.

Public lands belong to all of us. The Administration needs to listen to the overwhelming consensus of Americans and protect these places for future generations. We will fight in court any executive action that substantially strips protections from national monuments and we will continue to oppose any legislative attempts to codify those assaults into law or gut the Antiquities Act.”

Click here to watch and listen to local people who live closest to these monuments object to the Trump Administration’s actions on these national monuments.

Significant land management changes were also recommended by the administration that would severely alter the land use in several national monuments.  For instance, changes for Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California, Gold Butte in Nevada and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico would allow uses such as mining, logging and drilling in protected areas.  The administration also recommends that logging be allowed in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.


On April 26, President Trump signed an executive order that calls for a “review” by the Department of the Interior of national monuments designated since 1996.  Both Republican and Democratic presidents have used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect public lands and waters of natural, historical or cultural significance.

A draft report leaked to the press from U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended rollback of protections and significant changes to many monuments. Targeted monuments include Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine, Cascade Siskiyou in Oregon, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico, Gold Butte in Nevada and marine monuments in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Since the monument review was announced, millions of comments flooded into the Department of the Interior in support of leaving America’s national monuments as they are. National monuments in every corner of the nation provide countless opportunities for enjoying America’s natural heritage and outdoor traditions such as hiking, hunting and camping.  Many of these places hold cultural and historical significance, including sacred lands for Native American tribes, and they represent our nation’s diverse population.  

Additional information, photos and video:

Media resources for Trump administration "review" of national monuments
Dispatches from Monumental America: A Listening Tour
Key-Log Economics Report on Public Comments
“Too Wild to Drill” Report of 15 Irreplaceable Wild Lands at Risk for Drilling and Mining


Michael Reinemer