Antiquities Act Archives - Page 5 of 9


  • May 12th, 2017

    President Trump has declared war on Utah’s national monuments. Now is the time to act.

    President Trump’s April 26th Executive Order requires a “review” of national monuments dating back to 1996. This bureaucratic speak hides the administration’s real intention: dismantling the protections put in place for our nation’s most treasured public lands. Included in the review are dozens of monuments across the country, but the bookends of the timeline are Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments, making it clear that they are the prime targets.

    The Department of Interior is now accepting comments to gauge public support for these monuments.

    Help us save Utah’s monuments! Please click here to submit your comments and we’ll deliver them to the Department of Interior. We are collecting comments ourselves so we can ensure an accurate accounting of supportive comments to add to national totals.

    Utah has been under siege from politicians hostile to protecting its wilderness for decades, but this action marks the most sweeping threat to the preservation of Utah’s protected wildlands. What’s worse, the Bears Ears comment period is a mere 15 days, meaning we need everyone to act quickly.

    Click here to submit your comments now.

    It’s important that comments be in your own words—the Department of Interior will count them individually that way. But to help you gather your thoughts, let us remind you of what’s at stake.

    Bears Ears:
    •    Bears Ears National Monument was a significant achievement. President Obama protected the 1.3 million-acre monument in December at the urging of a historic coalition of five Tribes that had come together to advocate for its protection.

    •    It is the first national monument to include traditional knowledge as an object worthy of protection in the monument proclamation. And every inch of Bears Ears is necessary to preserve the more than 100,000 archaeological sites therein.

    •    Bears Ears must never be shrunk nor repealed. If anything, the monument is not big enough. The Tribes had requested almost 600,000 more acres for protection. The whole tribal proposal should have been made a monument.

    •    It is a remarkable wilderness landscape. Beyond the monument’s namesake twin buttes are world-renowned wilderness treasures like White Canyon, Indian Creek, and Comb Ridge. Myriad plant and animal species thrive in its varied habitats. And you’d be hard pressed to find the solitude provided by these areas elsewhere else in the lower 48.

    Grand Staircase-Escalante:
    •    Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated in 1996. Since then, it has come to be known as the “Science Monument”—yielding several new species of dinosaur and other paleontological finds and providing habitat for 650 bee species, many that are endemic to the area.

    •    Grand Staircase-Escalante has incredible camping, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Places like Calf Creek, Peekaboo and Spooky Canyon, Coyote Gulch, and the Hole in the Rock Road are known the world over. If you have your own favorites, be sure to mention them!

    •    Polling shows more than half of Utahns want Grand Staircase-Escalante left alone. That’s added to the more than 80 percent of Westerners that the Colorado College Conservation in the West poll showed want existing national monuments left intact.

    •    Reviewing any monument is a political act, but especially when it involves one that is more than two decades old and flourishing. No president has ever taken this needless step, and neither should President Trump.

    Please consider all of these points as you make your comments, and make sure to add your own! Tell the Department of Interior what makes these monuments so special.

    We know this will take more time than usual, but it’s extremely important. Tell Secretary Zinke and President Trump that Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are here to stay!

    Thank you for all you do. We can’t do this without you.

  • April 26th, 2017

    They’re coming for your national monuments.

    This morning, President Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to “review” Bears Ears National Monument within 45 days, and to make a recommendation on all other monuments going back to the designation of Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996.

    That this review is a sham is beyond doubt. During the signing ceremony, Trump repeatedly mentioned Bears Ears, saying it “never should have been done.” And the White House advisory on the executive order specifically calls out Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante as “two examples of modern abuses of the Antiquities Act.”

    In short, Utah’s redrock wilderness is ground zero in Trump’s war on the American West.

    Can you send a tweet right now to Secretary Ryan Zinke and tell him to leave Grand Staircase and Bears Ears alone?

    Heres a sample tweet:

    .@SecretaryZinke please #StandwithBearsEars and leave #grandstaircase intact. #Keepitpublic #monumentsforall

    Or call the Secretary’s office directly at 202-208-7351 or be patched through on your cell phone by clicking here.

    Sunset Arch in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Copyright James W. Kay.

    Every call and tweet makes a difference. We need to show Sec. Zinke that the American public is opposed to his attempts to undo decades of conservation victories.

    It’s clear that at Bears Ears the president wants Secretary Zinke to manufacture the political cover for his administration to break the government’s promise to Native American Tribes to protect and preserve their ancestral homeland.

    And it’s equally clear that at Grand Staircase the president is seeking to reward his Big Coal backers at the expense of one of the nation’s wildest and most dramatic redrock landscapes.

    SUWA is going to do everything in our power to stop President Trump from giving away our national monuments to developers and drillers. Now is the time for all of us to speak up in defense of the redrock.

    Thank you for taking action.

  • April 25th, 2017

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    April 25, 2017

    Scott Groene, Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, released the following statement regarding the Executive Order that President Trump is expected to sign tomorrow directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to conduct a “review” of all national monuments over 100,000 acres that were created in the last 21 years:

    “This executive order by President Trump is the opening salvo in an unprecedented attack on America’s federal public lands, and Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments are directly and deliberately in the crosshairs.

    “At Bears Ears, the President has asked Secretary Zinke to manufacture the political cover for his administration to break the government’s promise to Native American Tribes to protect and preserve their ancestral homeland. At Grand Staircase, the President is seeking to reward his Big Coal backers at the expense of one of the nation’s wildest and most dramatic redrock landscapes.

    “This order should alarm every American who cares about our country’s cultural and natural heritage.”

    Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Tim Peterson

    # # #

  • February 2nd, 2017

    After widespread public outcry from hunters, anglers, recreationists, and public lands enthusiasts across the country, Congressman Jason Chaffetz has promised to withdraw HR 621 — legislation that would have sold off millions of acres of public lands across the West. (There is no mechanism for withdrawing a bill once it’s been introduced, so we assume this means that, while it will remain on the books, he does not intend to advance it.)

    HR 621 identified 3.3 million acres of federal land across 10 states for disposal and subsequent sale (based off a dusty, 20-year-out-of-date Interior Department report), including 132, 931 acres in Utah. What Chaffetz’s bill neglected to mention is that the report also specified that many of those parcels contain a number of “impediments to disposal,” including the presence of cultural, historical, and paleontological resources as well as endangered plant and animal species. Thankfully, citizens across the country who treasure these public lands flooded the congressman’s office with calls and hosted two rallies in Montana and New Mexico to voice their outrage at what would have been nothing short of a land grab, leading the congressman to withdraw the legislation late Wednesday night.

    This is a major victory for public lands and a testament to the power of grassroots activism, but the broader fight surrounding the fate of our nation’s natural treasures is far from over.

    In disavowing HR 621, Congressman Chaffetz said nothing about another piece of legislation he introduced last week. HR 622, the “Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act,” would eliminate roughly 300 law enforcement officials at the BLM and another 700 at the Forest Service and replace them with deputized local officials. Such actions would effectively curtail the agencies’ ability to ensure public safety as well as protect the critical wildlife, ecosystems, cultural sites, and other important resources of our nation’s most beloved landscapes.

    In the backdrop of all of this, the Utah delegation continues to wage war on our national monuments and the very law that made them possible, the Antiquities Act of 1906. Representatives Bishop and Chaffetz have repeatedly lobbied the Trump administration to overturn the 1.35-million acre Bears Ears National Monument and eliminate sizeable portions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument as well. These incredibly special landscapes—places of recreation, inspiration, reflection, joy, and discovery—remain in grave danger.

    In short, the battle to protect our public lands in the 115th Congress has only just begun. SUWA will fight our opponents every step of the way and we’ll keep you posted as new threats emerge. In the meantime, let’s continue to remind Congressman Chaffetz that public lands should be preserved for the benefit of the many instead of sold off for the sake of a few.

    If you live in Chaffetz’s district, call his office (DC: 202-225-7751, UT: 801-851-2500) and thank him for doing the right thing on HR 621, but insist that he must also withdraw HR 622 and support the Bears Ears National Monument!

  • January 18th, 2017

    Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), President-elect Trump’s nominee for Interior Secretary, finished his ‘How Do You Do?’ hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday. The results, as is often the case in the public lands universe, are coming up Utah.

    ct-ryan-zinke-interior-secretary-confirmation-hearing-20170117
    Do you want the good news or the bad news? Or both? In the hearing, Rep. Zinke said more than once that visiting the Beehive State was his “first order” should he be confirmed—even confirming that to Sen. Manchin, who was fishing for West Virginia as the answer.

    SUWA, naturally, welcomes any new secretary of Interior who proposes to visit us in what he called our “Great State of Utah.” Utah’s public lands are the crown jewels of those managed by the secretary—some of the last unprotected wildernesses in the lower 48—indeed, the last to be mapped because of their rugged and untamable beauty.

    But, we have serious concerns about Zinke’s nomination. His record is partly cloudy on its fairest days. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool fossil fuel booster, and he lauds industry deregulation. He has occasionally made a point of resisting public lands giveaways of the kind that extremists in Utah champion, and he did defy Rep. Rob Bishop’s attempts to dismantle the Land and Water Conservation Fund. But these qualifications were once the cellar for an incoming Interior Secretary—not the ceiling.

    That President Obama just designated 1.35 million acres of the Bears Ears National Monument only underscores the importance of Zinke’s promised visit. If confirmed as DOI boss, Zinke will be the head liaison between the U.S. government and the many sovereign tribes of this nation. Because an unprecedented coalition of tribes—the Navajo, the Zuni, the Hopi, the Ute Mountain Ute and the Ute Indian Tribe—came together to request the monument in honor of the heritage they all share in this landscape, it will be mandatory for the next DOI Secretary to meet with them and understand their role in protecting this place. Anything less is a total sham. And Zinke’s hedges on the next administration’s intentions were a red flag.

    That’s why, at the hearing, one of our great public lands champions, Sen. Martin Heinrich, made a point of reminding Rep. Zinke that even tribes in New Mexico are celebrating the new Bears Ears National Monument. It’s obvious that native people of many states, and diverse citizens of all fifty, are joining together to rejoice in this new designation, which will endure for generations.

    But we worry the nominee doesn’t truly see it that way. In justifying Utah as a priority visit at the hearing, Zinke drew on his Navy Seal background and called it a “five-meter target,” (i.e. the thing immediately in front of you) and proclaimed that “obviously we have a problem in the Great State of Utah.”

    That almost sounds like he sees our state as a threat, doesn’t it? It’s clear he needs some better intel.

    Rep. Zinke has vowed to visit with those “affected” by the Bears Ears and make a “recommendation” to President Trump about its future. That handshake tour requires at least two stops beyond what a bitter Utah delegation would show him:

    First, Zinke must meet with the tribes who so passionately worked for its protection and assist them in their goals—certainly they are affected.

    Second, as the local conservation group that has worked on Utah wilderness for more than 30 years, and knows these lands inside and out, Rep. Zinke needs to meet with our staff in Moab. Our folks in Moab are closer to parts of the monument than any town in San Juan County. We’ll gladly accommodate his schedule so we can show off what our nearly 13,000 members know to be true: that these public lands are among the nation’s most wild, most fragile and most precious, and that his job is one that will require true vision.

    In the hearing, Zinke repeatedly professed his admiration for President Teddy Roosevelt, who first designated the Natural Bridges National Monument, which the new Bears Ears National Monument adorns and completes with holistic, 21st Century boundaries. Zinke claimed today he hoped to be “bold,” to seek a vision for “100 years from now.” We hope the Montanan will live up to that professed dream, by looking to the possibilities and economies of the future instead of the past.

    After all, Teddy Roosevelt himself signed the Antiquities Act that made the Bears Ears National Monument possible. And, as the 26th president said, “Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.”

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