Your Comments Needed on National Monument Review
See what the latest executive order means for national monuments and how you can speak up for trails.
An executive order signed on Wednesday by President Trump could lead to the revoking of federal protection status or shrink the size of national monuments that are 100,000 acres or more, or monuments that were designated without sufficient local input. This wording makes it so that any monument created since 1996 could be up for review. So what does this mean for these lands both across the nation and in our state?
In the past, presidents have called upon the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect lands across the nation. A large majority of these protected lands are located in the west in states like Utah, Arizona and California, but some also reside in Washington, including Hanford Reach (195,000 acres) and San Juan Islands (970 acres). Altering the status of protected lands has required approval from Congress in the past, but this executive order would allow the president to make changes to protected lands as well. While this particular order will prompt a review of monuments 100,000 acres or larger, smaller monuments could be reviewed in the future.
What the executive order will do
With this order, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will begin a process of reviewing national monuments 100,000 acres or larger and report back to the president if any actions should be taken in revoking or reducing the size of their lands. Because this executive order has no previous precedent, it will most likely be challenged in court to determine its legality. The motives of the administration are also hazy, as it’s unclear whether protection status for the monuments in question will be revoked entirely or if the lands will be shrunk in size, or both. The administration claims that the order will promote a “multiple-use philosophy”, and that the president will have discretion on whether monument lands should be rescinded or resized in order to be properly managed.
The administration also claims that current environmental and conservation regulations in place won’t be removed through this order. Though this is a reassuring point, if the size of lands are trimmed and federal protections are removed, it may open the lands up to other alterations in the future.
At the moment, the administration doesn’t have any concrete plans for specific lands, so everything is currently speculation. However, WTA opposes revoking the protection status of public lands. We do not believe that reducing their size is a good thing for the land or recreationists looking to access them in ways that are sustainable.
A public comment period has opened up on the National Monument review that will focus on both Bears Ears National Monument as well as other monuments around the country. Make your voice heard and leave your comments on the review of Bears Ears National Monument before May 26, 2017, or for other monuments before July 10, 2017.
Contact your local legislator and let them know that national monuments deserve protection status, no matter their size.
Sign up for the Trail Action Network for updates on this and other important issues that affect hikers.