“Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what? They’re wrong.” ~ President Donald Trump, on 12/4/17.
The President of the United States just took your land, Utah.
In one swoop, President Trump downsized Bears Ears national monument from 1.35 million acres of federally protected land to 228,337 acres and Grand Staircase-Escalante, a monument designated by President Bill Clinton, will be split into three sections and shrunk from 1.9 million acres to just about 1 million acres. He claims the move will help the poorest counties who could use the land for financial gain. The drillers, miners, and frackers could go back to work. The Native Americans disagree and worry their sacred lands and artifacts will vanish.
It is well known throughout American history that presidents may protect our lands. From the redwood forests to the Gulf stream waters, there are more than 100 national monuments in America. Since The Antiquities Act of 1906, 16 of the last 18 presidents used this power to protect places like the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon. Under that act, the area of land may be used for activities like camping, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding. The acres may also be used for anything allowed prior to its designation, which includes previously-existing rights like an oil and gas leasing, valid mining, and livestock grazing.
The Antiquities Act also expressly states that presidents should protect the important sites while using the smallest amount of land possible. Trump believes the use of the Act by Clinton and Obama was nothing more than a huge “federal land grab.”
Yet, there is another major issue to consider.
Until now, according to a federal land law of 1970, only Congress has the power to reduce or nullify the size of these national treasures. Plus if President Trump truly believes this land is better served by the people who live there, why weren’t the tribal leaders, like those of the Navajo Nation, consulted prior to this decision?
So, the big question is: Was this move by Trump even legal? We will soon find out. By late Monday, December 4, 2017, 10 conservation agencies filed a lawsuit.
As concerned citizens, what can we do?
1. Research both sides of the debate. Learn what is the truth and what is debatable.
2. Listen and understand the arguments opposite of your own.
3. Voice your opinion and concerns to your congressman or woman using what you now know.
4. Seek those who have skin in the game, those who have an impact, to support. Those in opposition should look no further than the lawsuits. These are the folks walking their talk: the plaintiffs.
The Wilderness Society, 1615 M Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20036
Defenders of Wildlife, 1130 17th Street NW Washington, D.C. 20036
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 40 West 20th Street, 11th Floor New York, New York 10011
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 425 East 100 South Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Grand Canyon Trust, 2601 North Fort Valley Road Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
Great Old Broads for Wilderness, 605 East 7th Avenue Durango, Colorado 81301
Western Watersheds Project, 126 South Main Street, Suite B2 Hailey, Idaho 83333
Wildearth Guardians, 516 Alto Street Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Sierra Club, 2101 Webster Street, Suite 1300 Oakland, California 94612
Center for Biological Diversity, 378 North Main Avenue Tucson, Arizona 85701
Those for the downsizing of the national monuments, may support the defendants:
Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, D.C. 20500
Ryan Zinke, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW Washington, D.C. 20240
Brian Steed, in his official capacity as the official exercising the authority of the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, 1849 C Street NW Washington, D.C. 20240
5. Pick up your wallet and donate today. Groups are eager to hear from you, right now. For example, The Wilderness Society is currently matching donations with suggestions as small as $35. It could be the best holiday gift you’ve ever given.
“This land is your land, this land is my land…This land was made for you and me.” ~ Woody Guthrie
Have an insight or another side to this story? We’d love to hear from you.
Author: Kate Fleming
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy: Nicole Cameron
Social: Emily Bartran