DECEMBER 2017 UPDATE: TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO REDUCE BEARS EARS AND GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENTS
In an unprecedented move that attacks our lands, waters, economy, way of life, and the very heritage of our nation, President Trump announced drastic reductions to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante (GSENM) National Monuments in Utah. At the urging of Secretary Zinke at the conclusion of his sham “review,” President Trump cut Bears Ears National Monument by a staggering 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) by 50%.
Bears Ears National Monument was designated in 2016 by President Obama after years of lobbying by the Navajo, the Hopi, the Ute Mountain Ute, the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Zuni, all who hold Bears Ears as their ancestral lands sacred. Trump’s move puts over 1 million acres of lands and countless cultural landmarks in grave danger of permanent destruction.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated in 1996 by President Clinton. GSENM is known for world-class recreation opportunities and treasure trove of geological and paleontological discoveries. Countless scientists – including WSCC Associate Director Patrick Dooling – have spent years trying to unlock the area’s secrets. “The rock layers of the Monument are like pages in an ancient book—if half of them are ripped out, the plot is lost…..The Antiquities Act was established to protect places of world-class scientific importance and that is exactly what Grand Staircase is,” said David Polly of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology. Trump’s proclamation also jeopardizes the economies of the rural areas surrounding GSENM, which has grown considerably since monument designation.
WSCC stands with the many coalitions filing lawsuits to this illegal land grab.
While these Monuments are outside WSCC’s specific area of interest, an attack on one monument is an attack on all. President Trump’s move sets an unwanted precedent that could one day effect our own protected lands, including Gunnison Gorge and Dominguez-Escalante NCA’s.
Our friends at Conservation Lands Foundation, along with the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, filed a joint lawsuit in federal court to overturn the presidential proclamation for GSENM.
Additionally, The Wilderness Society, along with 9 other groups, have also filed a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s actions. Outdoor retailers are also challenging this move in court. Our partners at Patagonia have also announced they are suing the Trump Administration’s proclamation.
But it may get worse before it gets better. Secretary Zinke is also said to be recommending reductions to Nevada’s Gold Butte National Monument, as well as Cascade-Siskyou National Monument in California/Oregon.
Want to help sue the Trump Administration?? Consider donating to our friends at Conservation Lands Foundation, who are working hard to combat this illegal land grab. Additionally, our partners at Friends of Cedar Mesa, which is working to protect Bears Ears, also has a Kickstarter campaign to fund an education center on Bears Ears National Monument and its unique natural and cultural resources.
May 2017 Update:
TAKE ACTION: President Trump is attacking our national parks, public lands and waters in the mountain West
President Trump has signed an executive order attempting to eliminate or shrink national monuments that have been protected by past presidents, including Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Canyons of the Ancients, Rio Grande Del Norte, Browns Canyon, and Colorado National Monuments.
This is an attack on our heritage and the public lands and waters that are critical to our economy and way of life.
The executive order puts the fate of our parks and monuments in the hands of Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. Now is the time to show Secretary Zinke that residents of the Western Slope want our lands to remain protected. With your help, we can demonstrate the overwhelming public support for Bears Ears and all national monuments.
Please submit your comment today. The Deadline to submit comments is July 10 at 11:59pm EST!
Sixteen presidents from both sides of the aisle have designated national monuments to protect places from the Grand Canyon to Bears Ears to Papahānaumokuākea in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The Act also helps tell a more complete story of our nation, protecting sites from Stonewall to Birmingham to Cesar Chavez. The American Public, including residents of the Western Slope, overwhelming support our national monuments and no president has ever attempted to revoke a predecessor’s monument designation, until now.
According to a recent study by Headwaters Economics, there is no evidence that National Monument designation harms local economies. Moreover, for the 17 gateway communities studied, trends in important economic indicators—population, employment, personal income, and per-capita income—increased after creation of the monuments.
Tell Secretary Zinke that those of us on the Western Slope want Bears Ears and all national monuments to be protected for future generations. Thanks for taking action today!
Consider sending a copy of your comments directly to Representative Tipton as well.
Contact Representative Tipton:
Washington (202) 225-4761
Grand Junction (970) 241-2499
Dear Representative Tipton,
I am extremely disappointed that President Trump has signed an executive order that attempts to undermine our national monuments, including Bears Ears, Rio Grande del Norte, and Browns Canyon National Monuments. I strongly urge you to oppose any efforts to eliminate or shrink our national monuments.
Our national parks and public lands and waters help define who we are as a nation by telling the story of our historical, cultural, and natural heritage. These incredible resources are also critical to western Colorado’s economy – driving tourism, outdoor recreation, and a quality of life associated with healthy public lands.
A 120-day review makes a mockery of the decades of work that local communities have invested to protect Bears Ears and other national monuments for future generations. Any honest review of a national monument would be transparent, engage the public, and consider the decades of community engagement behind many of these monuments.
Here in Colorado, our support for protecting special places is strong, and the public overwhelmingly opposes this and other attacks on national parks, monuments, public lands, and waters. I urge you to support our public lands and oppose any efforts to eliminate or shrink national monuments.
The executive order is an attack on America’s national parks, public lands and oceans.
- National parks and public lands and waters help define who we are as a nation. Attempts to revoke or change the fabric of national monuments is an assault on our nation’s historical, cultural and natural heritage.
- Although the Trump Administration released a list of about two dozen monuments subject to the review, the executive order allows for wide discretion that puts monuments of all size at risk. The sweeping review will include all monuments created since 1996 that are over 100,000 acres, or where the Secretary determines the designation was made with insufficient input. In short, the executive order is an attempt to undermine one of the nation’s most important conservation tools.
- The Antiquities Act was signed by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 to safeguard and preserve U.S. public lands and cultural and historical sites for all Americans to enjoy. Sixteen presidents – eight Republicans and eight Democrats – have used this authority to protect places from the Grand Canyon to Acadia to Papahānaumokuākea in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The Act also helps tell a more complete story of our nation, protecting sites from Stonewall to Birmingham to Cesar Chavez.
The executive order is part of a larger effort to sell off America’s public lands and waters for fossil fuel development.
- There’s no doubt that a number of the national monuments targeted by the review hold resource potential that the oil & gas industry wants to access. Opening these special areas to development would threaten cultural and natural resources that could never be replaced. Our national parks, public lands and waters protect a shared history and culture that are worth more than the minerals beneath them.
- Groups like the American Petroleum Institute have made clear they see the Antiquities Act as a threat to oil & gas development. And, in the case of Bears Ears, the Western Energy Alliance has confirmed industry’s interest in drilling.
A 120-day review (or 45 days, in the case of Bears Ears), makes a mockery of the decades of work that local communities have invested to protect these places for future generations.
- Behind each national monument — and the plans guiding their management — are well-documented facts about the cultural and natural resources under the monument’s protection. President Trump’s administration or the Congress can’t shrink, eliminate or alter national monuments without undermining the very cultural and natural resources they protect.
- While the details on how the review will be conducted are unclear, it’s hard to see this exercise as anything more than kabuki theater. Any honest review of a national monument would be transparent, engage the public, and consider the decades of community engagement behind many of these monuments.
Efforts to eliminate or shrink national monuments will hurt local economies.
- National parks, public lands and waters are a critical part of the nation’s economy – especially for rural and Western communities that benefit from the tourism, outdoor recreation and quality of life associated with healthy public lands.
- Outdoor recreation alone generates $887 billion and 7.6 million jobs every year. And in 2016, National Parks saw a record 331 million visits, contributing almost $35 billion to the U.S. economy.
- Regions surrounding national monuments have seen continued growth or improvement in employment and personal income, and rural counties in the West with more federal lands had healthier economies, on average, than their peers with less protected lands.
This action is deeply unpopular – the public overwhelmingly opposes attacks on national parks, public lands and waters.
- In the 2017 Conservation in the West poll conducted by Colorado College, 80% of western voters supported keeping protections for existing monuments in place while only 13% of western voters supported removing protections for existing monuments.
- Other recent polls have shown strong support for national parks and monuments. A 2014 Hart Research poll conducted for the Center for American Progress showed that 90% of voters supported Presidential proposals to protect some public lands and waters as parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness.
No President has attempted to revoke a national monument – for good reason.
- There are over 150 monuments that protect America’s cultural, historical, and natural heritage for future generations. Notably, no president has attempted to revoke a predecessor’s monument designation, even where some initial public disagreement over the designation existed.
- Legal scholars are in agreement: No president has the legal authority to eliminate or significantly alter a national park or national monument. See: here and here.
- While several monuments established in the early part of the 20th century were later modified, none of the past boundary adjustments have been challenged – or upheld – in court.