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.

Our Priorities

Wildlife Conservation

99 percent of plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act still exist today.

Wildlife Trade

Every year, tens of thousands of animals are killed for trade of their parts.

Wilderness Protection

Only 11 percent of land under the Bureau of Land Management is protected from drilling.

What's at Stake

What you can do

Tell Interior Secretary Zinke to defend our national monuments

Be a good neighbor to struggling pollinators by turning your backyard into a welcome pit stop

Stop Trump and Pruitt’s escalated anti-environment assault

America's Monuments: Worth the Fight
Report
Bears Ears National Monument, Utah

Tim Peterson

Bears Ears in Utah. Giant Sequoia in California. Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of New England in the Atlantic Ocean. Papahānaumokuākea in Hawaii and the Pacific Ocean. These are among our most cherished national treasures. Each monument is a testament to America’s shared history, common values, and natural and cultural heritage.

Yet these monuments are now in the crosshairs of the Trump administration, which intends to shrink or eliminate them altogether, and open some to oil and gas drilling, uranium and coal mining, and other commercial extraction. President Trump does not have the legal authority to do this, but he and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke have launched a sham review of the monuments, intended to pave the way for their exploitation by extractive industries, including fossil fuels.

This report highlights what's at stake and why each of these precious monuments deserves the protection conferred since 1996 by previous presidents. As the administration reviews monuments across the nation, two at the very center of its bull’s-eye are Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the North Atlantic. These—and all our national monuments—are in urgent need of our protection.

Explore this interactive map to discover America’s monuments and the value they bring to the country.

These monuments are among our most cherished national treasures. They are in urgent need of our protection.
Voices
Trump’s Attack on Our National Treasures
By attempting to exploit our national monuments, the Trump administration is threatening America’s past—and future.

When you think of America, our country's vast, beautiful public lands and diverse heritage are what come to many people's minds. Americans overwhelmingly love their national parks and monuments—it’s not only about preserving untouched lands and wildlife; it’s about protecting our history. Here, four individuals from across the United States remind us what’s at stake in the fight to save our national treasures.


San Gabriel Mountains

California

To civil rights attorney Robert Garcia, the San Gabriel Mountains, just north of Los Angeles, are a source of joyful childhood memories. If the Trump administration shrinks or eliminates our national monuments, it will “violate the will of the people” and rob communities, particularly the underserved, of those experiences.


Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

New Mexico

Archaeologist Angel Peña explains how communities and their stories are preserved, like a “history book,” within Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and other national monuments. That’s why access to, and protection of, public lands is important for everyone—including his little girl. 


African Burial Ground

New York

Audrey Peterman, a park conservationist, describes how the African Burial Ground preserves hallowed space in a city where real estate is the most valuable resource. The Trump administration’s attempt to strip protections from our national monuments means we could lose the stories of people “forgotten”—forever.


Gold Butte

Nevada

The stunning colors and incredible serenity of Gold Butte, with its ancient rock art and rich wildlife, are just part of what draws former BLM employee Hillerie Patton back to this national monument. It’s the protections currently in place that preserve its peaceful qualities for everyone.


Tell Interior Secretary Zinke to stop the assault on our national monuments

onEarth Story

The latest executive order takes aim at iconic public places that store carbon, protect ecosystems, and keep fossil fuels in the ground.

onEarth Story

The interior secretary’s proposal to hand over park management to private companies has riled up some very unhappy campers.

onEarth Story

Why are there so many names for legally protected waterways? And what do they all mean?

onEarth Story

Donald Trump’s choice to head the Interior Department says he opposes giving away America’s wilderness. But he voted to make doing so much, much easier.

Victory

After years of work by NRDC and its partners, about 5,000 square miles of ocean—with massive canyons, majestic underwater mountains, and more than 1,000 species—have received permanent protection.

Policy Primer

If we don’t address these increasingly severe threats, America’s most treasured lands might soon be unrecognizable.

Victory

Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah will protect some of America’s most striking landscape—and its earliest history.

onEarth Story

It’s a neighborhood in Chicago.

Explainer

Now deemed national monuments, these natural beauties will be protected for generations.

Voices
Gold Butte: Our Natural Heritage
Former BLM employee Hillerie Patton describes this Nevada landscape as the essence of “This Land is Our Land”—and how preserving wildlife, archaeological sites, and recreation is about quality of life.

The following is a transcript of the video.

Hillerie Patton, former employee of the Bureau of Land Management, North Las Vegas, Nevada: I never thought of myself as an outdoorsy person. I don't even like to get dirty.

But I love to go to Gold Butte. I love taking that drive out there. I love being there. I love everything about it. You'll see all these different shapes, but the best thing is when you look over, and you're actually seeing the blue of Lake Mead, and you combine that with the reds and the yellows.

What's special for me about Gold Butte is how I feel when I'm there. Whether I'm hiking or whether I'm just sitting out in a chair looking at the stars, I just always feel amazing when I go there. It's just a beautiful place just to relax.

For decades, you had a lot of people who felt like they could do whatever they wanted at Gold Butte. People were going out there. They were destroying the plants. They were destroying the animal habitat. They were destroying the rock art. They were dumping trash.

The protections are in place to make sure that these things don't continue to happen.

What the monument designation that came in late December of 2016 did was give it a little bit extra protection, which protected the majority of the area instead of just smaller portions.

The people who feel the most threatened by the designation feel that, in some type of way, there's some money that is being missed by having these designations in place.

What we want them to understand, it's about quality of life.

There's bird-watching. There's stargazing if you go at night. There's a lot of great areas where you can camp and hike. People do go out there, and they four-wheel and they dirt bike. There's many hundreds of miles of designated roads and trails that people can stay on.

When I was a kid in the first grade growing up in Kansas, we learned "This Land Is Your Land," and I always remembered that song. When I go out on the public lands, I always think of that song, and whether you're in Maine or Michigan or New Mexico or Nevada, all of this belongs to all of us, and so I think it's important that all of us take an active interest in making sure that these areas are here for all of us to enjoy.

Tell Interior Secretary Zinke to stop the assault on our national monuments

Voices

As America’s national monuments come under attack by President Trump, Los Angeleno Robert Garcia shares the story of his personal connection to San Gabriel.

Voices

As our national monuments come under attack by Trump, park conservationist Audrey Peterman reminds us that protecting our monuments is also about protecting the legacy of America’s people.

Voices

For archaeologist Angel Peña, this national monument is more than just home to cultural and geological artifacts—it’s where memories and history are made.

Victory

After years of work by NRDC and its partners, about 5,000 square miles of ocean—with massive canyons, majestic underwater mountains, and more than 1,000 species—have received permanent protection.

onEarth Story

The latest executive order takes aim at iconic public places that store carbon, protect ecosystems, and keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Western Dispatch

State lawmakers commit to a sustainable course with an ambitious new energy efficiency bill.

onEarth Story

As the interior secretary ponders the fates of 27 national monuments, he seems to be hearing some voices more acutely than others.

Western Dispatch

Solar and wind power are booming in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. Here are some secrets to their success.

onEarth Story

Why are there so many names for legally protected waterways? And what do they all mean?

Policy Primer

This month’s National Park Service centennial presents an opportunity to create a parks system that is reflective of—and accessible to—all Americans.

Victory

Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah will protect some of America’s most striking landscape—and its earliest history.

Policy Primer

If we don’t address these increasingly severe threats, America’s most treasured lands might soon be unrecognizable.

Voices

The Trump administration’s review of national monuments threatens America’s culture and natural beauty.

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