Visit this site to submit your comments regarding the protection of our National Monuments. The deadline for comments is July 10.
July 8, 2017
Bears Ears (left) and Carrizo Plain (right) National Monuments in Utah and California.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
In May, the US Department of Interior under the leadership of Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that it would be “reviewing” the status of 27 national monuments. Some of the monuments under review include the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah, Craters of the Moon in Idaho, as well as the Carrizo Plain, San Gabriel Mountains, and Sand to Snow National Monuments in California. Based on previous statements which show the Trump administration’s ideology of “money first- environment last”, many of the monuments may be opened up for mining and energy development.
One of the most controversial decisions made by the Interior Department was to recommend to the president that the Bears Ears Monument’s size is drastically reduced. Bears Ears National Monument contains dramatic areas of wilderness with stunning rock formations and also is home to sacred sites and rock art from five different Native American nations, the Navajo (Dine), Hopi, Zuni, and Ute. When President Obama created the monument using his authority to protect sites with natural or historical importance under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the conservation and management plan for Bears Ears was set up by a coalition of the different Native tribes in the area. This was the first time that several Native tribes were able to jointly conserve an area of wilderness.
Another monument under threat is the Carrizo Plain in California. Carrizo Plain is one of the last remaining untouched areas of arid California Valley Grassland. These grasslands once stretched all across the south-central portion of California. The desert of Carrizo Plain bursts into dazzling displays of wildflowers each spring turning hillsides yellow and purple as they become covered in the blooming flowers. The plain also hosts the last herds of pronghorn in California that still inhabit their ancestral Valley Grassland habitat west of the Sierra Nevada as well as being the home of over a dozen threatened or endangered species including the San Joaquin Kit Fox. Carrizo Plain also contains geological wonders including the San Andreas Fault and historical sites including the remains of old ranch buildings and Native American petroglyphs (rock art).
Sadly, both Bears Ears and Carrizo Plain National Monuments are suspected to contain oil reserves. Oil companies have been seeking leases on these treasured lands for years and now both Bears Ears and Carizzo Plain, as well as 25 other national monuments may be up for grabs for destruction at the hands of oil, gas, and mining companies. If the Department of Interior decides to open these monuments up for resource extraction, the last remnants of our arid California Valley Grasslands and the wildlife that inhabit them will only exist in books. The sacred Native American sites of Bears Ears or the stunning geological formations of the Grand Staircase-Escalante may be swept away to history.
Several environmental organizations and Native American tribal governments have already filed lawsuits saying that revoking status for monuments can violate the Antiquities Act. These lawsuits are backed by several companies that sell outdoor equipment and have a vested interest in preserving public lands. Some of these companies include REI, Patagonia, and the North Face. The Department of Interior has also allowed citizens to submit comments regarding the “review” of monuments. The best thing that we can do to protect our National Monuments is to submit sincere comments to Secretary of Interior Zinke. Several groups have made it easier to submit comments but act fast, the deadline for comments is July 10.
Visit this site to submit your comments regarding the protection of our National Monuments.