Dear Secretary Zinke…

Be a good American. Protect our national treasures.
Credit: Photo credit: Sharon Buccino

Be a good American. Protect our national treasures. 

President Trump has issued an executive order that threatens 27 of our national monuments―and the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah is first on the chopping block. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has opened a comment period to review whether to eliminate or shrink our national monuments. The lands and waters at stake belong to all of us. Make your voice heard here. You have until May 25 to comment on Bears Ears. Remarks related to all other national monuments must be submitted by July 10. A list of the 27 monuments that Zinke is now reviewing can be found here.

Here’s what I had to say.

Dear Secretary Zinke,

I write to you as a parent, an outdoorswoman, a coach, and an American. 

As a parent of two wonderful teenage daughters, I care about the world that I leave my children. I want it to be stable. I want it to be healthy. I want beauty in it. Our national monuments―including every single one of the 27 that you are currently reviewing―hold this beauty. A monument is there for each one of us to enjoy―no matter where we were born, how much we earn, or who we know. Lifting a monument’s protections opens the land to abuse. Shrinking a monument’s size means that land protected for me and others can be destroyed for the profit of a few.

Be a steward for us all. Protect our monuments.

As an outdoorswoman, I value the chance to step outside myself. I enjoy the feel of the sun on my face. I enjoy the sounds of running water and wind in the trees. I enjoy the space to reflect. Our national monuments provide joy. I felt joy as I stood under the Bears Ears last summer. I found strength in the land’s majesty and those who walked it before me. I felt joy when I took my daughter on her first hike in the San Gabriel Mountains in California.

Be a giver of joy. Protect our monuments.

As a coach of youth basketball, I teach my players to care for each other. I teach them to support each other. I teach them to respect each other. Our national monuments deserve care, support, and respect. I care about the people they honor, like the ancestral Puebloans who inhabited Canyon of the Ancients in Colorado. I support the five tribes who proposed Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and value their wisdom. I respect the courage and the struggle memorialized by the César Chávez National Monument in California. 

Be a champion. Protect our monuments.

As an American, I value the unique role that our national monuments play in our national identity. I also value the money I earn. I have worked hard my whole life to support myself and my family. I willingly pay the taxes that I owe. But I don’t want them wasted. Don’t waste my money reviewing whether our national monuments should exist. Instead, spend your department’s scarce resources managing our monuments well. Managing them well involves the public. Managing them well promotes the good of the many, not simply a few. 

Be a good American. Protect our monuments.

May the words of Theodore Roosevelt guide you:

A nation “behaves well if it treats [its] natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.”


Sharon Buccino

Raised in Florida, lived in California, Alaska, and Virginia