Civil War site in Kentucky becomes a national monument—but threats to other public lands still loom

President Trump designated his first national monument on Monday—a move that stands in stark contrast to the administration’s repeated attacks on existing national monuments and other federally protected lands. Using authority granted by the Antiquities Act, Trump formally designated Camp Nelson, a 380-acre historical site in Kentucky that served as the largest recruitment and training center for African American soldiers during the Civil War, a national monument. While the site is an important part of American history and deserves the protections it now enjoys, the irony of Trump's move was not lost on those still fighting to protect other national monuments. Remember, presidents have the power under the Antiquities Act to create monuments but not to undo them—which is what the Trump administration has attempted to do with Utah's Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, lands of special importance to indigenous groups. Last December, in an unprecedented and illegal move, Trump shrank Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante by 85 percent, stripping protections from more than two million acres of public lands, leaving them vulnerable to drilling, mining, and other threats—and deeply undermining the very law his administration used to honor Camp Nelson. 


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