President Trump's decision yesterday to slash protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, the largest rollback of federal land protection ever, is simply awful.
Ever since the days of Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. Presidents have used the Antiquities Act to protect some of our nation's most outstanding historical and culturally significant public lands and waters. The Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty are among the sites designated under the century-old law. Over the decades, Presidents of both parties have used the Act 129 times to grant a legacy of natural and cultural resource protection for the benefit of Americans. One half of all national parks started as national monuments.
Over the last year, we've been a witness to a slow-motion attack on America’s national parks, public lands and our ocean. Now, the attacks are a full-on assault on our nation’s historical, cultural and natural heritage. As recreational users, we must speak out for laws like the Antiquities Act that allow our nation's greatest resources to be protected for future generations.
What's next? Well, the published secret memo from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to President Trump detailed recommendations to both shrink and reduce protections for national monuments. Among the ten monuments targeted for diminished protection are three ocean designations, including one off New England and two in the Pacific Ocean. The memo recommends opening the Northeast Canyons & Seamounts monument to commercial fishing, while reducing the size of the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll monuments (and possibly opening both to commercial fishing and offshore drilling.)
These marine monuments are full of amazing natural, cultural and recreational resources - worthy of protecting, right? 99% of the public agree as expressed in the four-month public process. Given the many threats facing our ocean, this is hardly the time to roll back protections.
This is for certain: Surfrider and our network of 150+ chapters and clubs will not back down. And neither should you. Tell your Congress member to stop this assualt on our natural world and defend our marine monuments. A simple 5 minute action can help protect these marine treasures for a lifetime.
Together, we will continue to fight for what is right - and what our past leaders so thoughtfully did - to protect our natural world for today, tomorrow and every generation that follows.