Reporting from the Salt Lake Tribune today confirmed rumors that the Trump administration plans to dismantle and undermine protections for Bears Ears National Monument, while other rumors are swirling about potential action on Utah’s Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument as soon as next week.
The following statement is from Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society:
“Despite demands from millions of Americans, Native American Tribes, elected officials across the nation, scientists and legal scholars, President Trump continues to move down a path that puts the future of America’s treasured lands at risk. Any efforts to take away protections for America’s lands and waters will be met by deep opposition and with the law on our side.
“President Trump is making it clear that he stands with the most partisan and anti-lands faction of his party, not the majority of Americans. The sneaky closed-door meetings that continue to happen are a slap in the face to the very public process that drove the protection efforts for Bears Ears as well as other national monuments across our country. ”
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. These public lands, which belong to all Americans, provide countless opportunities for hiking, hunting and camping. Many of these places, including sacred lands for Native American tribes, also represent our nation’s diversity and hold cultural or historical significance.
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