National Monuments under threat

Dear Editor:
I am writing this letter on behalf of our National Monuments. I wanted to make sure local citizens are aware of the current situation in Washington and to let them know what they can do about it.

There are two ways to create a National Monument. Monuments can be established by legislative action in Congress or by the president through the use of the Antiquities Act. They can be either historical or natural sites. A variety of activities are allowed in many of our National Monuments. These include fishing, camping, hiking, boating and horseback riding among others. One of the best known National Monuments was the Grand Canyon, which eventually became one of our most beloved National Parks.

The Interior Department recently released a list of 40 National Monuments to be review by order of the Trump Administration (Presidential Executive Order 13792 issued April 26, 2017). The Trump Administration claims that creating National Monuments has become an “egregious abuse of power”. There have also been reports in the news that the Administration wants to be able to open some monuments to oil and offshore drilling as well as overturn land protections. The potential damage to these unique places could be huge. No National Monument created by Presidential decree in the past has ever been rescinded. The National Monuments slated to be reviewed were created by our last three Presidents, going back 21 years. Trump’s attempt to ‘undo’ a National Monument’s designation is an unprecedented move.

The Monuments to be reviewed include:
Basin and Range Nevada
Bears Ears Utah
Berryessa Snow Mountain California
Canyons of the Ancients Colorado
Carrizo Plain California
Cascade Siskiyou Oregon
Craters of the Moon Idaho
Giant Sequoia California
Gold Butte Nevada
Grand Canyon-Parashant Arizona
Grand Staircase-Escalante Utah
Hanford Reach Washington
Ironwood Forest Arizona
Mojave Trails California
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks New Mexico
Rio Grande del Norte New Mexico
Sand to Snow California
San Gabriel Mountains California
Sonoran Desert Arizona
Upper Missouri River Breaks Montana
Vermilion Cliffs Arizona

In addition, the new Katahadin Woods and Waters Maine National Monument will be reviewed “…to determine whether the designation or expansion was made without adequate outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders”. This is despite the fact that the land was originally privately owned and given as a gift. It seems nonsensical to me that this could be viewed as an “abuse of power”.

The Department of the Interior will have a public comment period, beginning May 12th. I am writing this letter in the hopes that people who care about preserving special places, who care about our National Monuments, will flood the site with their comments. Even more importantly, speak up publicly. Don’t stand by and let this travesty happen.

The Department of the Interior’s site states:
“A public comment period is not required for monument designations under the Antiquities Act; however, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and President Trump both strongly believe that local input is a critical component of federal land management. Comments may be submitted online after May 12 at http://www.regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the Search bar and clicking “Search,” or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.”

In my opinion, the “egregious abuse of power” is the one currently going on in Washington and with the Department of the Interior’s Ryan Zinke. It feels more like a “land grab” attempt by big money and big corporations from “We the People”.

Catherine Loeb
former Clare resident

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