From the beginning, I've been worried that this "comments" period and the Interior Department's review is only for show. I fear that President Trump will act to eliminate these 27 monuments regardless of the levels of public support or the Interior Department's recommendations.
In the latest weekly presidential address, at around the 1:20 mark, the President starts talking about freeing up "domestic energy production to unleash the full power of our economy" by "tearing down every possible barrier."
To me, this sounds like the President is announcing his intentions to start eliminating monument protections next week.
This sounds like very bad news for our monuments, especially the ones with oil, gas or coal beneath them. I very much fear that many of our monuments are in danger regardless of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's ultimate recommendations, and that the danger will extend to monuments not on the list, and even the elimination of protections from the National Parks, as well.
There only hours left in the comments period. The more input there is from people who want to save our monuments, the more positive Secretary Zinke's recommendations may be, and at this point, it's the least we can do to save these national treasures. Just a few minutes ago, I posted the last of my initial posts on the 27 monuments, achieving my goal of at least one post sharing about each monument on the list. Some of these posts were rather modest, and benefited greatly from Brent Rose's excellent videos he shot about each monument, but at least there was enough there to make these places a bit more real, to make them more than just names on a list or green spots on a map. Through that process, I learned so much about each of these special places. It was all I could do not to spend all day everyday just digging deeper on each one, but time was a consideration too. I hope to go back now that this first phase is over and to share even more details about these monuments. My goals for continuing are not just advocacy, but also, I fear, memorialization, creating a monument to monuments that I fear we will lose, perhaps temporarily, perhaps forever...
Tomorrow's deadline is only the end of one battle in a much longer war. These lands and waters will still need advocates, perhaps even more desperately than they need us today and tomorrow. They will need folks sharing about them, regardless of their protected status, to battle the inevitable day to day fights over land use and resource extraction. Even the monuments that survive this initial assault in some form, if any do, will not be off the table forever. Look at Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, it is facing elimination by Congress even while its fate is being discussed through this process. Other battlegrounds, too, may flare up, involving not just these places that most folks have never heard of and may never, sadly, visit, but battlegrounds on some of our nation's most cherished locations. Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon. etc. The jewels of the National Park System may be at risk, if not from elimination, but through regulation changes that forever alter the nature of the lands we've protected for so long.
And if some or all of these 27 monuments are reduced or eliminated to little public notice or protest, then what would stop the government from moving against more parks and monuments in the future, including those more firmly entrenched under the National Park Service management?
The energy resources will always be there, the other natural resources, and in most of the parks and monuments, there is still room for tremendous growth of the local economies... If we ever have a truly desperate need for these resources, they will still be there, protected and saved for use in the future, but let's save what is above ground for now until such a time ever comes, if ever, where a true national emergency requires what lies below and then, only then, let's have the debate on using them responsibly utilizing technology we might not even possess yet. Thanks to everyone who has left comments with the Department of the Interior, to everyone who has spent time on these pages and others like them, to everyone who has worked tirelessly advocating for these 27 monuments and for all of our parks and monuments. Together, you all give me hope that these lands will survive the current political climate and will be there for generations to come to explore, grow, and learn in.
To comment on the monument review process (due July 10, 2017):
NPR: What Utah's Canyon Country Can Tell Us About Trump's Monuments Review (June 10, 2017)
This article is mostly focused on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is number two on the Trump Administrations hit list, but it deals with many of the same issues as the others, and it is a good look at the longer term effects of these sorts of monuments. It was the first one to be managed by the BLM and just turned 20 years old in 2016.