April 26, 2017
The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks is strongly opposed to the Executive Order signed by President Trump today ordering a review by the Department of the Interior of national monuments established by presidents since 1996 to determine if the boundaries need to be changed or other modifications made. “It looks like history is repeating itself,” said Coalition Chair Maureen Finnerty. At the beginning of the administration of President George W. Bush, a similar review was conducted by the Department of the Interior—including some of the national monuments covered by today’s Executive Order—resulting in not a single monument being abolished or reduced in size. “As was the case during the Bush Presidency, this initiative is a complete waste of time and money being conducted at the behest of those wishing to use our public lands for extractive and other purposes,” said Finnerty.
The Coalition emphasizes that each of the nineteen national monuments established since 1996 that are managed by the National Park Service were, in fact, created only after meetings with the public and assurance of strong public support. These national monuments help to protect important public resources and to tell the rich and diverse stories of America’s history, including Cesar Chavez, Colonel Charles Young and the Buffalo Soldiers, Harriet Tubman, the Pullman strikers and porters, Japanese internment, the Freedom Riders, and Reconstruction. The larger NPS monuments created since 1996, including Grand Canyon-Parashant, Craters of the Moon, Castle Mountains, and Katahdin Woods and Waters, help to protect for our posterity scientifically important wildlife, water, and additional natural and cultural resources under threat from climate change and other dangers. Finnerty asked “Do President Trump and Secretary Zinke really want to tell Americans that these spectacular and important American resources and stories, no longer need to be protected and shared?”
Since Congress passed the Antiquities Act in 1906, all presidents but three (Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush) have used the authority conferred by the Act to protect the most important natural, cultural, and historic resources of this country. As the Act requires, the President’s designation applies only to Federal land, not private or State/local land. On several occasions, the President’s establishment of a national monument has been met initially by local opposition, but over time the opposition has changed to support and appreciation. Our national monuments remain some of our country’s most inspirational places, visited by thousands each year, and contributing greatly to the economies of their respective regions and local communities. Half our “national parks” started as “national monuments” established by Presidential proclamation, making the Antiquities Act one of the Nation’s most important conservation laws.
The Coalition urges the Secretary to fulfill his promises to the American people to protect those places we most value and resist the efforts of a few to make a profit from our public lands.
The Coalition is comprised of over 1,200 members who collectively have more than 30,000 years of experience managing and protecting national parks. We believe that our parks and public lands represent the very best of America, and advocate for their protection.