National monuments a 'massive federal land grab'


The move will endanger the protection of 57 of the 129 areas that have been designated "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest" in accordance with the Antiquities Act of 1906 - an act which allows the U.S. Congress or the president to declare a site of value and protect important lands. Although we won't know much more until this summer, the order could lead to the reduction or even elimination of monuments designated by three previous presidents.

"Today I'm signing a new executive order to end another egregious abuse of federal power and to give that power back to the states and to the people where it belongs", Trump said at the signing ceremony.

Under the Antiquities Act, presidents have almost unlimited power to create national monuments on land the federal government already owns and can block oil and natural gas drilling, mining, grazing, fishing or other land uses, depending on the circumstances.

President Donald Trump is asking for a review of the designation of tens of millions of acres of land as "national monuments".

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Trump directed his interior secretary on Wednesday to review all national monuments of 100,000 acres or more that were created since 1996.

As he signed the order Wednesday, Trump said some of his actions may not be popular, but he believes he is doing the right thing. The timeframe would include more than half of the designations made during the Clinton administration, and the entire administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. "The local community, the loggers, the fishermen, those areas that are affected should have a say and a voice", Zinke said.

These are treasures that most Californians want to protect, not open up to Trump's corporate pals for drilling, mining, logging or commercial development, as has already happened in the Mojave. On his own, Obama designated over 550 million acres as national monuments, including the Papahānaumokuākea monument off the coast of Hawaii, which at 1.5 million square kilometers (580 million square miles) is the largest contiguous fully protected conservation area in the US. There was the Bears Ears Monument in southern Utah which is about a million acres of federal public land considered sacred to Native American tribes.

Trump's implication is that the government somehow stole these lands away from the American people. "This is a big one", Mr. Trump said before signing the order.

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This Executive Order does NOT strip any monument of a designation. At risk are some especially controversial places in Utah, like Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

I urge everyone who loves America's public lands and supports the continued protection of National Monuments to contact their members of Congress and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to express outrage at the Trump administration's efforts to roll back National Monument protections.

"The review of the monuments designated under the Antiquities Act is both warranted and necessary". He has 120 days to issue a full report on all monuments to the president. Critics of the law said the government has abused its power in controlling certain public lands.

"It seems to me that it's - the study he's proposing - is not going to do anything that would benefit the people of California or the species they're supposed to protect if they shrink (the monument)", said Ara Marderosian, Sequoia ForestKeeper's executive director.

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