Ocean Protection, Marine Protected Areas
May 18 2017

Monuments Under Attack: Feds Seek Public Input on Designations under Review

by Pete Stauffer

The Department of the Interior has opened a 60 day public comment period on National Monuments. Please submit your comments by July 10th in support of marine protected areas (MPAs) that are under threat by the current administration!

Did you know that some of our best national parks and marine protected areas are under review by the Trump administration? Yes, sadly it's true; our nation's rich heritage of protecting its most outstanding lands and waters is being challenged by a White House intent on rolling back a broad range of environmental protections.

President Donald Trump has ordered a review of National Monuments designated under the Antiquities Act by U.S. Presidents since 1996. The move jeopardizes dozens of marine monument sites, including Hawaii's Papahānaumokuākea and the Northeast Canyons & Seamounts monument that Surfrider chapters worked so hard to designate.

Ever since the days of Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. Presidents have used the Antiquities Act to permanently protect national treasures for the benefit of current and future generations. The Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty are among the sites designated under the century-old law. More recently, presidents of both parties, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have used the Act to grant a legacy of natural resource protection for the nation they served. Regrettably, it appears we will now have to fight to defend both individual monuments and the Antiquities Act itself. 

The good news is that our nation's monument designations enjoy widespread support from communities and citizens for the enormous benefits that they provide. Science from around the world shows that protected areas are one of the most effective ways to protect and restore ecological systems, including the rich diversity of animals and plants found in the marine environment. Protected areas also provide important economic and social benefits through supporting recreation, tourism and other industries dependent on healthy ecosystems.

Given the immense value that protected areas - both marine and terrestrial - provide to states and communities, it's no surpise that a bipartisan group of 325 state legislators from 44 states have sent a letter to President Trump raising strong concerns with the unprecedented action to review public lands. "Public support for protecting special places is strong, and many small communities increasingly depend on tourism and the growing outdoor recreation economy," said Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker. "The effort to eliminate or shrink national monuments risks $45 billion generated nationwide by public lands, including national monuments."

The Surfrider Foundation will continue to fight to protect our nation's outstanding marine protected areas through national advocacy and regional campaigns with partners. Please join us in this effort by submitting your comments in support of the Antiquities Act and Marine Monuments before the July 10th deadline.

To access the Dept. of Interior's public comment portal click here and enter "DOI-2017-0002 " in the search bar. Suggested points to include are listed below. Thank you for speaking out in support of national monuments!

  • National monuments, including marine monuments protect extremely sensitive, rare, and biologically diverse ecosystems, thus providing significant historic and scientific interest.
  • Protection of monuments allows for added public use and enjoyment of areas both within and outside of monument boundaries, especially for recreational purposes.
  • Monuments provide continued economic benefits to local states, tribes, and communities through increased tourism, recreation, and long term fisheries management (with respect to marine monuments).
  • As a public constituent, you SUPPORT the continued protection of these National Monuments and feel that there was adequate public outreach and coordination during their designation and expansion.
  • Protection of these magnificent treasures ignites a strong sense of national pride, and promotes domestic travel and tourism within our own country.

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