Stop Trump's assault on US National Monuments!

Green turtle Green turtle (© CC BY 2.0)

President Trump wants to shrink a number of National Monuments and open them for mining and oil drilling. Irreplaceable natural treasures – including the Pacific Remote Islands, a marine reserve nearly as big as the Gulf of Mexico – are on the chopping block. Tell Trump to take his hands off of America’s priceless natural heritage.

Call to action

To: President Donald Trump, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke

Mr. Trump, National Monuments belong to future generations. They are not resources to be exploited for profit.

Read letter

A green turtle glides majestically over a coral reef in the Pacific. Vivid butterfly fish dip and weave between the outcrops while a group of gray reef sharks circles near the surface.

These marine creatures and their habitat are safe from human interference – or they were until recently. They live in the Pacific Remote Islands National Monument, a US marine protected area of nearly 1.3 million square kilometers, made up of thousands of coral reefs, atolls and tropical islands.

The reserve was established by President George W. Bush in 2009 and expanded by his successor Barack Obama in 2014.

But since April 26, 2017, the future of the natural treasures of the United States has become highly uncertain. President Donald Trump is threatening the future of 27 such National Monuments on land and in the sea with an executive order.

According to a proposal drawn up by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, at least ten of these protected areas are going to be made considerably smaller or opened to exploitation – for mining, oil drilling, logging, livestock and commercial fishing.

They include arid deserts and spectacular canyons such as Grand Staircase-Escalante and archaeological sites such as Bears Ears in Utah. Cascade-Siskiyou, a National Monument in Oregon established to protect the unique biodiversity of its mountain region, is also affected.

All of these areas are protected because previous presidents declared the public land a National Monument. During a 60-day public comment period, more than 2.7 million United States citizens submitted their objections to the government.

Tell the Trump administration to withdraw its executive order and protect the National Monuments for future generations.

Back­ground

What are National Monuments?

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act. The law gives the president the power to declare public land, marine areas, historical sites and buildings to be National Monuments, putting them under special protection by the federal government.

Since then, 16 presidents – eight Republicans and eight Democrats – have exercised this power. 129 National Monuments have since been designated, including the Grand Canyon, the Giant Sequoias in California, archaeological sites such as the Navajo National Monument in Arizona and the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

What exactly did President Trump order?

On April 26, 2017, US President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13792 mandating a review of all National Monuments established since 1996 by his predecessors Clinton, Bush and Obama. 22 National Monuments on land and five Marine Monuments are affected by the order.

The aim of the executive order is to decrease the size or even nullify National Monuments to facilitate industrial logging, mining, oil drilling, commercial fishing and livestock grazing. President Trump described the protected areas as a “massive land grab” that “should never have happened” and declared, “We’re going to free it up”.

Environmentalists immediately vowed to fight the move in court if necessary. During a 60-day public comment period, more than 2.7 million objections were submitted to the government. The majority of United States citizens oppose changes to the National Monuments and opening them to exploitation by industry.

In August 2017, Secretary of the Interior Zinke listed ten National Monuments in a proposal to President Trump. Zinke wrote that the boundaries of some National Monuments were “arbitrary or likely politically motivated or boundaries could not be supported by science or reasons of resource management”. The leaked report can be read here.

Affected National Monuments

- Bears Ears, Utah

- Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah

- Gold Butte, Nevada

- Cascade Siskiyou, Oregon

- Katahdin Woods and Waters, Maine

- Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, New Mexico

- Rio Grande del Norte, New Mexico

Affected Marine Monuments

- Pacific Remote Islands

- Rose Atoll, Pacific

- Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Atlantic

Further information

NPR, April 28, 2017: The Sweeping American Landscapes Under Review By Trump

Monumentsforall.org, July 10, 2017: Americans Stand With #MonumentsForAll: More than 2 million comments support protecting our nation’s heritage

National Geographic, September 18, 2017: See the Wild Places That May Lose Protections as National Monuments

The Guardian, September 18, 2017: More national monuments should be opened for exploitation, Zinke says

The Guardian, September 18, 2017: 10 national monuments at risk under Trump’s administration

New York Times, August 24, 2017: Interior Secretary Proposes Shrinking Four National Monuments

New York Times, October 27, 2017: Trump Plans to Shrink Two National Monuments in Utah

Reuters, October 27, 2017: Trump to shrink Utah national monuments in bid to boost drilling, mining

Letter

To: President Donald Trump, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke

Dear Mr. President,
Dear Secretary Zinke,

We call on you to preserve the United States’ National Monuments in their present form and protect them against exploitation by agriculture and industry.

The National Monuments are recognized the world over as unique ecological and cultural treasures of the United States. Their integrity are of incalculable value to local people and visitors from all over the world, and their importance for recreation and tourism far outweigh any potential revenue from mining or other short-term business interests.

Do not ignore the law and the will of the American people. Revoke your Executive Order dated April 26, 2017, in which you question the boundaries and status of 27 National Monuments.

Yours faithfully,

Please sign

Help us reach 150,000:

123,052
Recent activity