“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.” – Teddy Roosevelt, Father of the National Park Service and Signer of the Antiquities Act.
Our Monuments Are Under Attack. THEY NEED YOUR HELP!
The administration has signed an executive order titled “Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act.” This review will focus on the “legality” of 27 National Monuments designated under the Antiquities Act going back to 1906. Republicans feel that these designations have “locked up” large areas of land and have hurt local economies. We strongly disagree. The Antiquities Act was created at the turn of the century to protect places with significant cultural resources that were being looted without shame including Anasazi dwellings at Chaco Canyon and Cliff House in the 4-Corners country of the southwest. The use of the Act has expanded but has still been applied to legally protect areas with sacred artifacts from looting and spectacular wild lands and natural resources from loss. FAQ about the Antiquities Act.
It is now the year 2017. We, the American People have been fighting to protect our heritage, our cultural resources and our wild public lands since 1906 when the Antiquities Act was signed by President Teddy Roosevelt to do just that. We strongly feel that these Monuments under review are protecting what little we have left of our wild lands, our heritage. Weakening the effectiveness of the Antiquities Act by rescinding designations of these monuments will set a terrible precedent for future protection of our public lands. If these monuments are taken from us, they will no longer be there for our children or our children’s children. They will be gone.
The monument designations are found to be enhancing, not hurting the local economies. They belong to us – American Citizens in every state. They belong to the Tribes that have fought for protection of their sacred lands. They do not belong to the state of Utah, or Nevada, California or Washington. They belong to all of us. Sadly, as we watch the current administration try to destroy every single thing dear to most Americans, we must continue to fight to protect what is ours.
In response to the Executive Order the Department of Interior (DOI) has opened a forum to receive public comments on application of the Antiquities Act on each of the 27 monuments under review. DOI will be looking for reasons to eliminate monument status or reduce the current monument boundaries. We hope this web site will help you, dear reader, with information you will need to prepare informed comments.
The Bears Ears, in southern Utah just east of the Colorado River, was designated by President Obama during his last days in office. But the fight to protect this monument, with its treasure of Anasazi ruins, pictographs and petroglyphs has been going on since the 1930’s. A coalition of Native American Tribes has worked tirelessly for years to see this designation signed. Bears Ears is managed by a coalition of five Native American Tribes (the Navaho Nation, Hopi, Ute Mountain Ute, Ute Tribe of the Uintah and Our ray Reservation and the Pueblo of Zuni), the USFS and the Bureau of Land Management. However, the administration and the Utah State delegation have made this monument a target, allowing only 15 days, starting on May 12 for accepting comments. This is a fight we cannot afford to lose. The comment period for the other 26 monuments is extended to 60 days. The number of monuments under review is intentional to dilute our efforts.
The ordered review goes back to 1996 specifically to include Grand Staircase-Escalante, also located in southern Utah on the west side of the Colorado River from the Bears Ears. Designated by President Bill Clinton, it also has a wealth of artifacts that have been subject to looting for years and well as unique, spectacular wilderness areas and…coal. This administration seem blindly focused on coal in spite of the fact that coal is out-competed by natural gas and green energy technologies, and existing coal mines in the region are closing for that reason alone. Just today the vice president tweeted, and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke re-tweeted: “THE WAR ON COAL IS OVER”. Time to fight back.
ADOPT A MONUMENT
Here is what we need you to do. There are 27 monuments. They all need comments – but that is a heavy load. To comment effectively you need to be informed. We will be posting information on each monument for your review to help you make informed comments. Simply saying “I love this monument” or “Please protect this monument” is not enough. We urge you to look a the list of Monuments under threat. Pick one you are familiar with – or one you want to learn about.
Pretend this is your high school senior project. Use what we can offer or do some research on your own – everything is online these days. Look for information from the communities – how the monument has enhanced, not hurt the citizens. Detail is important. Personal stories are important. And remember – your comments do not have to be interesting. But every single fact or detail you submit has to acknowledged and reviewed by someone at DOI. Be sure to include links to your sources! Pour on the information! You own this monument! You are going to save it!
For ideas on how to write a strong submission, click here: “Suggested Outline or “Hot Topic” Review List for Comments.”
J.C., Bothell, Washington
Photo: U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and nature preservationist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, on Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. In the background: Upper and lower Yosemite Falls.