The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks is deeply disappointed to see Secretary Zinke’s proposal for President Trump to reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument. Such an action would undermine the ability of the land managing agencies to assure the proper care and management of the important natural and cultural resources protected by this National Monument. It would also likely expose those resources to harm and exploitation. Congress has not given President Trump the legal authority to undo a national monument established by the Antiquities Act. Secretary Zinke’s recommendation is an affront to the sovereign tribal nations who worked to protect the cultural heritage of this sacred place and to the majority of commenters who want to see these natural and cultural resources protected. We fear that this recommendation sets the stage for additional attacks on America’s national parks and public lands.
The Coalition consists of current and former employees of the National Park Service who collectively represent more than 30,000 years of national park management experience and are well versed in public engagement processes and public comment periods. In our recent comment letter to the Secretary, we called on him to keep the monument fully intact and protected. Over 1 million comments were submitted in support of Bears Ears, showing that Utahns and Americans alike oppose removing protections. We question the quick turnaround of a recommendation following the public comment period. In such a short time, it would have been impossible to review the millions of comments that were submitted.
Secretary Zinke’s recommendation is a bad decision for our public lands, but the Coalition will push forward and continue to fight any further attempts by the Trump Administration to weaken the Antiquities Act. We are eager to hear Secretary Zinke’s announcement following the larger review period and urge him to reverse course on BENM and protect the other lands under review for current and future generations of Americans.