Save Our National Monuments
What's At Stake
We must stop opening up our public lands and waters to polluters.
Just shy of his 100th day in office, Donald Trump commanded the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior to review 27 national monuments in order to shrink—or even eliminate—their designations.
No U.S. president has ever repealed a monument’s status—and for good reason. Designated by presidents of both parties under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the historical and natural importance of these hallowed grounds are irrefutable. They inspire us, teach us about the natural world, support small businesses, and provide opportunities to boost our physical and mental health. Most importantly, many of these national monuments are a critical part of Indigenous cultures.
But what did Trump and his administration see in these lands and waters? Oil, coal, gas, timber, and prospects to exploit, privatize, and profit.
To stop this attack, NRDC has helped galvanize millions of advocates—Indigenous leaders, hunters, anglers, hikers, artists, conservationists—who flooded then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s mailbox with 2.7 million public comments in support of these monuments. Despite this, in June 2017, Zinke recommended downsizing Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Cascade Siskiyou in Oregon, and Gold Butte in Nevada. He also urged changes in the use and/or management of Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande in New Mexico, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of New England; Pacific Remote Island Marine National Monument; and Rose Atoll Marine National Monument.
In December 2017, Trump began to act on these recommendations by signing proclamations to decimate Bears Ears by a devastating 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by 46 percent, opening them up to the dirty fossil fuel industry. Together with our partners, NRDC’s lawyers immediately sued over this illegal act.
With the leadership of Native tribes—the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Pueblo of Zuni—NRDC continued to help fight to undo these national monument rollbacks under the Biden administration. In October 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that the administration would be reinistating the original boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments and restore protections to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.
Reporting, expert commentary, analysis, and more.
In the stroke of a pen, gone were the protections enjoyed by nearly two million acres of our public lands.
The number of acres within the Gand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that Trump's Interior Department plans to sell to private interests
The number of people calling for protection of monument designations.
Number of visits to national parks per year
The number of sites protected by the 1906 Antiquities Act
Number of important indigenous archaeological sites in Bears Ears National Monument, Utah