We rely on wilderness not only to inspire and enjoy but also to protect our watersheds, clean the air we breathe, and provide a home for the diverse species that enrich our world.
NRDC protects wildlife and unspoiled lands from the threats of industrial development, commercial exploitation, pollution, and climate change. We partner with ranchers, farmers, energy companies, and the government to promote solutions that help wild predators coexist with livestock and people. We push for international agreements that shield polar bears, elephants, rhinos, and other animals from being killed for trade. And we fight to keep reckless oil and gas drilling out of wild areas, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Boreal Forest.
99 percent of plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act still exist today.
WASHINGTON – The Natural Resources Defense Council has joined with Earthjustice and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to request, under the Freedom of Information Act, that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke release his secret recommendations for reducing protections for certain public lands and ocea
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted his recommendations to the White House today on potential changes to 27 national monuments.
Six of California’s monuments could be rolled back in this unprecedented and illegal attack on our public lands: Berryessa Snow Mountain, Carrizo Plain, Cascade Siskiyou, Giant Sequoia, Mojave Trails, and San Gabriel Mountains.
These lands are your lands. They are not for the benefit of a few individuals or corporations who want to profit from developing them. These lands are where families camp and hike and fish and learn about the Golden State’s natural and human history. These lands, quite literally, “were made for you and me,” to quote Woody Guthrie. They were designated as monuments by former presidents of both parties using the powers granted them under the Antiquities Act.
And 98% of Americans who submitted comments asked that protections be kept in place, not swept aside by an illegitimate review process. Secretary Zinke has sent a report and recommendation to the White House, but it won't be available to the public at any time before President Trump takes action. This flies in the face of the public process that designated these spectacular monuments in the first place, and it is utterly unacceptable.
The nation, especially the 2.7 million Americans who took time out of their busy lives to participate in this process, are left in the dark by today's announcement by Secretary Zinke. The Secretary himself recognizes that the comments received were “overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining existing monuments.” His recommendations should not roll back or diminish any Monument protections, but if they do, we will absolutely fight back.
Berryessa Snow Mountain, Carrizo Plain, Cascade Siskiyou, Giant Sequoia, Mojave Trails, and San Gabriel Mountains National Monuments are part of our children’s heritage and their children’s after them. They create jobs for local communities and draw tourists from around the world. They are a bulwark against the damaging effect of climate change already impacting California.
Our public lands are truly one of “America’s best ideas” and one that we will stand up to protect at every turn, in California and across the country.
WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called today for President Trump to roll back protections for some of the nation’s most cherished public lands and waters, opening the door to drilling, mining and other destruction in special places that belong to all Americans.
For the first time in America’s history, many of our national monuments are at risk for industrial exploitation.
More than a century ago, some of the most important natural, cultural, and historic places in the United States were under threat. They were being destroyed by reckless looting, mining, logging, and other destructive acts. President Theodore Roosevelt responded with historic action, creating our first natural national monument to protect Devils Tower, the iconic volcanic outcrop in northeastern Wyoming.
This natural legacy belongs to us all. From the awe-inspiring splendor of California’s giant sequoias to the majestic forests and mountains of Maine to the spectacular coral reefs off Hawaii, these monuments help to enshrine our common past. They honor the values that bind us as one and allow every American to experience the natural wonder of this richly blessed land much as the first Americans knew it.
Now, in a breathtaking betrayal of those unifying goals, President Trump has put many of these cherished monuments on the chopping block in a misguided effort to expose some of our most treasured lands and waters to more mining, drilling, and commercial development.
It’s time to summon the spirit of conservation that Roosevelt championed and stand up for special American places. The Antiquities Act, which Roosevelt signed into law in 1906, empowers every president to designate special places for protection as monuments in the public interest. It does not entitle any president to look backward and strip away those protections already in place. Trump is the first to try to flout the law.
Past presidents designated these places only after years of analysis, public input, and review. They relied on exhaustive research, stakeholder engagement, and dialogue with business owners, farmers, ranchers, anglers, hunters, tour guides, and others. And they put in place professional plans that conserve and curate the habitat, wildlife, archaeological deposits, and sacred sites that make each monument a unique part of the national story we share. In turn, these preserved places have become economic engines. Studies show the growth of local economies surrounding national monuments after they’re designated, improving personal income levels and employments rates.
All that deserves to be respected, not swept aside as a handout to special interests. That’s the will of 98 percent of those Americans―2.7 million of them―who filed formal comments with Zinke’s office this summer in response to Trump’s order.
Zinke is due to make his recommendations by August 24. We don’t know what he’ll suggest because the review has been conducted the without transparency or logic. From the outset, it has been unclear which monuments were actually targeted, how the review was being conducted, whose voices would be heard, and what would drive Zinke’s decisions. He’s said he’ll make no changes to several national monument areas, including Hanford Reach in Washington State and Craters of the Moon in Idaho, citing Hanford’s value to anglers and hunters and Craters’ status as a testament to our geologic past. But he’s also indicated that other monuments might come under assault, already suggesting, for instance, that Trump should shrink Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, a wondrous expanse of red rock formations, sandstone canyons, and desert mesas that hosts more than 100,000 sacred and historic sites important to several Native American tribes.
Exposing our national treasures to the ravages of mining, commercial development, and drilling for oil and gas is a fool’s errand. It would put special American waters and lands in the hands of those who would dynamite, bulldoze, pave over, and drill irreplaceable sites that belong to us all. Industry would get the profit, special places would be destroyed, and we, the people of this nation, would be left the poorer.
These lands and waters don’t belong to the president, despite whatever he may believe. They belong to the American people. The American story, in all its sprawling and rough-hewn majesty, is written on their landscapes. They remind us of what we share as a country, of who we are as a people, of what we value enough as Americans to protect and conserve. And we can’t—we won’t—let them slip away.