In the twilight hours of the end of his second term President Obama designated the Bears Ears Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte Monument in Nevada under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The Bears Ears Monument designated 1.3 million acres of native land to be protected under the federal government. This land would still be used by the local native community for ceremonies and wood gathering but would be protected from big oil and gas that have had their eye on the land for many years.
With the regime change in the White House, all our protected lands are now under threat. Unfortunately, the conservative governing officials of Utah are leading the charge. In fact, on April 24th Orin Hatch said on his Facebook page that he had pulled every favor and utilized every relationship that he had to ensure the reversal of the Antiquities Act. But he didn’t stop there. According to the Executive order signed by President Trump on April 26, 2017 all national monuments instated in the past 21 years are subject for review.1
Conservatives in Utah have long been battling with the federal government’s use of the Antiquities Act. They view it as government overreach and see it as them dictating to states how to use their land. Their counterparts view it as a breath of fresh air that these beautiful places will be protected and preserved for the vast amount of tourism the state draws and it will protect the lands for future generations to enjoy.
Big oil and gas have had their eye on Southern Utah for years. Oil rigs have popped up all over Moab and along the perimeter of protected monuments and parks of Southern Utah. On a personal note, one of my favorite camping spots close to Dead Horse Point outside of Moab began to be plagued by seismographs put there by oil and gas companies in the late 90’s. Now there are many oil rigs all over the area obstructing the beautiful views of the red rock canyons.
In the Bears Ears area, it is no doubt that big oil and gas was the main motivating factor in this executive order. In fact, EOG Resources, a Texas company has been recently approved to drill near the Bears Ears Monument.3 This area is very rich in natural resources and the state is eager to sell off additional leases to other companies but they needed the Monument turned back over to the state to do so.
The battles for our national monuments are just beginning. We need to stand with our local Native Tribes and our Mother Earth to ensure that we are in lock step with their best interests. No doubt law suits will be brought to fight as some high profile outdoor companies such as Patagonia have said that they will fight this with all they have, other large companies will follow.4 There has never been a president to take such a bold move on protected lands and there has been some talk on whether he has the legal basis for this order.4 The supreme court will have to make this decision.
Below is a list of the National Monuments that are in jeopardy.2 The list includes Monuments that were proclaimed by George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. We need to call, write, protest and come together to ensure that the below listed lands stay protected. Even if you are not residents of the states affected, perhaps you have visited one of these places and they hold a special place in your heart.
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, proclaimed by President Clinton in (1.7 million acres).
- Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (1 million acres).
- Giant Sequoia National Monument in California, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (327,769 acres).
- Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (279,568 acres).
- Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (194,450 acres).
- Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (175,160 acres).
- Ironwood Forest National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (128,917 acres).
- Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2001 (486,149 acres).
- Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana, proclaimed by Clinton in 2001 (377,346 acres).
- Carrizo Plain National Monument in California, proclaimed by Clinton in 2001 (204,107 acres).
- Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2006 and expanded by President Barack Obama in 2016, (89.6 million acres).
- World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in California, Hawaii and Alaska, proclaimed by Bush in 2008 (4 million acres).
- Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, proclaimed by Bush in 2009 (60.9 million acres).
- Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, proclaimed by Bush in 2009 andenlarged by Obama in 2014. (55.6 million acres).
- Rose Atoll Marine National Monument in American Samoa, proclaimed by Bush in 2009 (8.6 million acres).
- Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, proclaimed by Obama in 2013. (242,555 acres).
- Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico, proclaimed by Obama in 2014 (496,330 acres).
- Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada, proclaimed by Obama in 2015 (703,585 acres).
- Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, proclaimed by Obama in 2015 (330,780 acres).
- Northeast Canyons & Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean,proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (3.1 million acres).
- Mojave Trails National Monument in California, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (1.6 million acres).
- Bears Ears National Monument in Utah,proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (1.4 million acres).
- Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada,proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (296,937 acres).
- Sand to Snow National Monument in California, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (154,000 acres).
The first time I ever went backpacking was in Escalante National Monument when I was in the 9th grade. I remember having my mind blown at the beauty and vastness our open lands had to offer. I remember being tired, challenged, and humbled at the landscape. I learned on that 30 mile trek what my body and mind was capable of. I developed a reverence of the life even the tiniest of streams could provide deep in the desert. This land belongs to you, our wild horses, and future generations. Please help the CANA Foundation fight big oil and gas to preserve our vast lands and not sell to the highest bidder.
About CANA Foundation
CANA Foundation’s mission is to responsibly restore an ecological balance in our environment through specific rewilding initiatives. These projects support harmony between the humans, plants, and animals that inhabit U.S. rangelands and focus on the restoration of our land’s native habitats through natural resources and indigenous species, like America’s wild horses. CANA initiatives work towards long-term, sustainable solutions that prevent further land degradation, protect and preserve wild horse populations, and encourage a beneficial, thriving ecosystem for today and tomorrow.
Contact CANA Foundation: PO Box 674, Locust Valley, NY 11560 or [email protected]Donate to CANA Foundation
It is up to us, American citizens, to contact our elected representatives of government and let them know how we feel about the issues. Use a service like GovTrack.us to find your local representatives and make your voice heard.Visit GovTrack.us
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- Featured Image: Phelps, J.M. (Aug. 12, 2012). The Toadstools – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/mandj98/7810260454/