In the most recent and blatant attempt to strip Americans of their Public Lands, the Trump Administration is expected to issue an Executive Order on Wednesday, April 26th that calls for a review of all National Monuments designated since 1996.Trump’s executive order on will attack 1,018,114,328 (over one billion!!!!!) acres of our most special National Monuments.
The most recent attack on America’s Public Lands is this time directed at President Theodore Roosevelt’s Antiquities Act of 1906. For those who don’t know, the Antiquities Act authorizes presidents to protect important archaeological, historic and scientific resources on public lands quickly, with just their signature needed. It has been used by nearly every president since Roosevelt from both sides of the aisle and has been a source of pride for Americans of all walks of life. Recent studies have shown that the Antiquities Act is supported by 90% of voters across the nation. According to most political and outdoors experts, Trump’s executive order symbolizes a profound break with America’s conservation legacy.
According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, who appeared to have first broken this story, “A senior White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday that the review will stretch back a couple of decades — including President Bill Clinton’s 1996 naming of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument — but mainly was prompted by President Barack Obama’s last-minute naming of Bears Ears National Monument in December. The order is not expected to change the designations immediately but has a short time frame for the Interior Department to report back on the designating of monuments back to Jan. 1, 1996. Clinton had named the nearly 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase in September 1996.”
When the Executive Order is signed, major destinations will be reviewed with the serious possibility of them being lost as protected Public Lands. The main areas that the media and environmental groups are focusing on are Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico and the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument also in Utah, which is full of ancient ruins to petroglyphs full of historical and cultural important found in relatively undeveloped landscapes.
While these more well known areas under attack are getting all the press, the Executive Order will impact locations right here in the Pacific Northwest. Craters of the Moon in Idaho, the Upper Missouri River Breaks and Pompeys Pillar in Montana, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon, Hanford Reach in Washington and the recently designated San Juan Islands in Washington are all going to come under the chopping block, thanks to the Trump Administration’s expected Executive Order. The full list of lands is as follows:
An Executive Order against Public Lands is unprecedented, with the general assumption from new presidents being to accept the lands set aside by the predecessors. This attack is a break from Trump’s words during the campaign and first few days in office, when he said he supported Public Lands.
According to the Wilderness Society, “Trump previously went on the record as wanting to keep public lands in public hands, seeming to repudiate the ascendant “land takeover” fringe in state legislatures and the halls of Congress. His choice to head the Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, has been an outspoken defender of keeping public lands in public hands.”
However, in private meetings during his campaign as early as 2016, Trump was meeting with groups against Public Lands and was extremely receptive of their message.
This is a developing story that could start a large scale battle for our Public Lands. If you care about keeping these lands for Public Use and wish to respect the desires of the American people and the sanctity of the Antiquities Act of 1906, please contact your member of Congress immediately and tell them you do not support this action. While President Trump can still sign the Executive Order, congress needs to take a stand and support Public Lands.