America’s First Executive Order Threatening National Monuments

By Roy L Hales

President Donald Trump may soon become the first U.S. President to ever revoke the status of federal lands designated as national monuments. He is concerned that “wasteful regulations … create barriers to achieving energy independence” and curtail “economic growth.” So today Trump signed America’s first executive order threatening National Monuments.

“The Interior is the steward of America’s public lands. Part of being a good steward is being a good neighbor and being a good listener. In the Trump Administration, we listen and then we act,” said Secretary Ryan Zinke. “For years, the people of Utah and other rural communities have voiced concern and opposition to some monument designations. But too often in recent history, exiting presidents make designations despite those concerns. And the acreage is increasing.”

The White House press release stating:

“The Secretary of the Interior shall conduct a review of all Presidential designations or expansions of designations under the Antiquities Act made since January 1, 1996, where the designation covers more than 100,000 acres, where the designation after expansion covers more than 100,000 acres, or where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders, to determine whether each designation or expansion conforms to the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.”

The Whitehouse also released a list of 24 sites.

At some point during the next 45 days, the Secretary is to provide  an interim report, with recommendations for Presidential actions.

The final report is due in four months.

Attack On America’s Most Treasured Lands

CNN reports that companies like EOG Resources, which recently received approval to drill near Bears Ears National Monument, are eager to see a decision.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert is urging Trump to rescind Bear’s Ear’s status.

According to a not-yet deleted description by the Bureau of Land Management:

“The 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah protects one of most significant cultural landscapes in the United States, with thousands of archaeological sites and important areas of spiritual significance. Abundant rock art, ancient cliff dwellings, ceremonial kivas, and countless other artifacts provide an extraordinary archaeological and cultural record, all surrounded by a dramatic backdrop of deep sandstone canyons, desert mesas, and forested highlands and the monument’s namesake twin buttes. These lands are sacred to many Native American tribes today, who use the lands for ceremonies, collecting medicinal and edible plants, and gathering materials for crafting baskets and footwear.”

“It’s extremely disturbing to see the Trump administration apparently laying the groundwork to remove protections on our public lands,” said Rose Marcario, president and CEO of the outdoor outfitter Patagonia.

Other Targets

So are the  Mojave Trails National Monument and Sand to Snow National Monument, in California.

“This executive order directly threatens the health and well-being of the Mojave Desert and surrounding communities. Just over a year ago three new national monuments were established in the California desert, protecting the unique ecological and cultural heritage of the land, as well as giving surrounding communities an opportunity to benefit economically from increased tourism,” said Danielle Segura, Executive Director, MDLT.

“The Mojave Desert Land Trust has fought to protect this desert. And we are prepared to fight against this latest attack upon our shared public lands and local communities.”

Top Photo Credit: MT Cadiz Courtesy Mojave Desert Land Trust

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