Yesterday, President Orange Julius signed an executive order that will undoubtedly set America back 3 Presidents-worth of land protection. This unnerving order, aimed to “review” as many as 40 large designated national monuments promotes a serious threat to America’s long-fought land conservation efforts.
It could reshape (read: shrink) at least 26 national monuments across the country. This comes at the heels of the Bears Ears fiasco regarding the designation of the massive parcel of land as a national monument, which created an uproar among people who claimed Obama was “overprotecting” lands. This argument is not new, but Trump’s order sets a disturbing precedent that put many environmental and conservation organizations as well as outdoor outfitters, like the always-vocal Patagonia, on the offensive.
“Bears Ears and other national monuments were designated after significant community input because they are a critical part of our national heritage and have exceptional ecological characteristics worth protecting for future generations. It’s extremely disturbing to see the Trump administration apparently laying the groundwork to remove protections on our public lands.” – Rose Marcario, Patagonia
America’s national parks, forests, monuments and other public lands represent a shared appreciation for the beauty of mother nature and a common ground with our fellow man. No matter your political party, I think we can agree that dismantling or shrinking public lands is not a step in the right direction of environmental protection and conservation.
In fact, many of your favorite national parks including Denali in Alaska, Joshua Tree in California, Olympic in Washington state, and four of Utah’s famous five parks—Arches, Bryce, Zion and Capitol Reef—began as national monuments.
Here are some of the national monuments being reviewed:
- Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah
- Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona
- Giant Sequoia in California
- Hanford Reach in Washington
- Vermillion Cliffs in Arizona
- Ironwood Forest in Airzona
- Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado
- Carrizo Plain in California
- Sonoran Desert in Arizona
- Ironwood Forest National Monument in Arizona
- Upper Missouri River Breaks in Montana
- Papahanaumokukea in Hawaii
- Rio Grande Del Norte in New Mexico
- Bears Ears in Utah
- Basin and Range in Nevada
Our public lands are in grave danger and a constant state of uncertainty beneath this president. And we need to start paying attention to not just what is said, but what is done behind closed doors.
Conservation Programs in Jeopardy
The Trump campaign has consistently bashed federal land agencies and intends to cut funding to federal government programs across the board. To an already tiny budget (1%) allocated to conversation, a cut like this could take a detrimental toll on our public lands. Oh, plus many members of the Trump administration believe climate change to be a hoax.
Reversal of National Monuments
Congress members against conservation have been steadily lobbying for Trump to reverse the national monuments groundwork laid by President Obama and others before him—a step eventually aimed toward gutting the Antiquities Act signed by Roosevelt in 1906, which grants the president authorization to declare national monuments, something nearly every president has done since its inception.
No president has ever revoked a national monument named by a predecessor. In fact, no president has even tried. Why? Because it’s stupid. This so-called “land grabbing” is protecting our precious lands from the types of people who want to stick a straw in it, deplete it of all its natural resources, then move on to the next sprawl of land when that runs out…which actually sounds a lot more like “land-grabbing”.
How can we help protect public lands?
Sharing articles and using trending hashtags is effective for getting the word out, though it does little in the way of making progress through activism. Take it a step further and call your state and local representatives and demand they work to make our voices on conservation heard. Put your money where your mouth is.
I’m the first to shout that money isn’t everything, but when it comes to politics, it goes a long way. Donate to wilderness conservation sites, many of which are currently matching your donations up to 10x! And finally, VOTE. Not just every four years, but in every local and state election. Let’s ensure these money-grubbing anti-conservationists no longer find a seat at our state’s table.
Here are additional places where you can oppose this order:
- National Resources Defense Council
- Wilderness Society
- The Nature Conservancy
- National Parks Conservation Association
- Sierra Club