The Attack on Our National Monuments Just Got Real

We’ll stand up to Trump’s raid on our public lands.
Credit: Bob Wick/BLM

We’ll stand up to Trump’s raid on our public lands.

In the single-largest attack on our public lands in U.S. history, President Trump went to Utah on Monday to strip nearly two million acres of necessary protections, exposing spectacular landscapes and sacred lands to industrial ruin for the sake of coal, oil, uranium, and gas profits. 

In a disgraceful and disingenuous speech, Trump denigrated the professionals at the U.S. Department of the Interior, who work hard—in Washington and on the ground across the country—to protect our public lands and waters from the very kind of exploitation Trump promotes. “I’m a real estate developer,” he crowed, going on to lambast “the bureaucrats in Washington” who, he told his Utah audience, “have threatened your very way of life” by standing up to protect lands that belong to us all.

But these maps don’t lie. 

Credit: Stephen Bloch/Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
Credit: Creed Murdock/Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
Credit: Stephen Bloch/Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

They show, in solid black lines, the boundaries of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, where we’re all free to hike, fish, camp, and otherwise enjoy these natural wonderlands without fear of industrial encroachment. 

In broken red lines are the token designations Trump proposes instead of these glorious monuments. Now take a look at the colors marking reserves of coal, oil, uranium, and gas long coveted by industry.

These maps, developed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, prove to us exactly why Trump wants to strip these public lands of the protections they need. It’s a handout of irreplaceable public treasures to fatten the profits of private industry at the public’s expense.

Trump’s actions are wrong, and they’re illegal—and we’ll hold him to account. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are iconic American lands. In stripping out their needed protections, Trump swept aside the voices of the American people, nearly three million of whom filed formal comments calling for him to leave the monuments alone. Trump is breaking the promise we’ve made, as a nation—to future Americans and to all Americans—to forever protect these lands.

This land is important to all of us. It’s part of the American story. It’s been set aside as a public trust, in the public interest, because this land, in every sense, belongs to you and me.

Presidents have the authority to set aside special places for future generations under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The act doesn’t give them the authority to take those places away from us and hand them over for industrial exploitation.

We’ll see Trump in court. We’ll stand up for the public lands and waters set aside as a public trust, in the public interest. And we’ll stand up for the rule of law.

For more than a century, presidents from both parties, dating back to Teddy Roosevelt, have set aside special lands and waters so that future generations of Americans might experience the natural splendor of this country as the first Americans knew it.

That’s a promise we’ve made to our children. It’s a promise we’re going to keep.


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