Trump takes action to sell out more of America’s shared natural heritage

Dec 4, 2017

Bears Ears National Monument, Utah

Mason Cummings, The Wilderness Society
Wilderness Society statement on Trump plan to rip protections away from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.

The Trump Administration announced it will abolish protections for more than 2 million acres of designated national monument lands in Southern Utah. These beloved lands, which include Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, belong to all Americans, but now face a future that could include drilling, mining and exploitation of resources.

The Bears Ears National Monument would be eliminated and replaced with two smaller inadequate units which would leave 85% of the original area at risk of mining and drilling including the vast majority of Cedar Mesa, home to an estimated 56,000 archaeological sites -- the highest density of cultural resources in the country.  This includes the Citadel Ruin and the world renowned Grand Gulch. Similarly, Grand Staircase Escalante would essentially be revoked and replaced by three smaller units which would exclude almost half of the current national monument -- the area that could be industrialized and lost is bigger than Yosemite National Park.

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

“The Trump administration has declared 'open season' on places Americans hold dear so that profit-seekers can drill, mine and log our public lands for private gain. By making commercial exploitation of these national treasures the top priority, this administration betrays the history of these sacred places, as well as their value as places for people to enjoy the outdoors and for wildlife to thrive.

The Trump Administration has callously ignored the millions of Americans who have spoken out in support for our national monuments.  With this radical approach to managing our national treasures, none of the nation’s natural and cultural wonders are safe from this administration’s agenda. 

Any action by the Administration to erase or permanently damage these national monuments is not only illegal but also an insult to the owners of this land – the American people – and will be challenged by The Wilderness Society in court.”

Background

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

The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org

Contacts:

Jennifer Dickson, Senior Southwest Communications Manager, (303) 650-9379, Jennifer_dickson@tws.org

Michael Reinemer, Deputy Director Wildland Communications, (202) 429-3949, mreinemer@tws.org