It happened quicker than maybe anyone thought it would. In December, President Trump officially announced that he would shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah via executive order, reducing the protections put in place to safeguard wildlife and Native heritage, opening them to mining and drilling.
Throughout the national monument review process, the implications of reducing or changing the monuments could seem intangible. But now the countdown is on – on Feb. 2 of this year, these public lands will be open to mining corporations and energy developers.
The threats to our public lands are not a distant, far off problem for tomorrow, they are happening now. We’re seeing similar threats to the ones President Theodore Roosevelt saw in 1906, which ultimately led to the creation of the Antiquities Act. Today, our public lands face exploitation from development, our wildlife is suffering from habitat loss, and our cultural heritage is under threat. The decisions made by our elected officials have consequences.
While the executive order is being challenged through litigation, bills have already been introduced in Congress to finalize the reduction of these monuments. I encourage everyone to write to their representatives and ask them to stand against any attempt to sell off our public lands.
Our cultural heritage and future depend on it.