Conservation and national monuments go hand-in-hand. Without legal protections in place, entire ecosystems of wildlife and ecologically as well as historically-valuable sites could be destroyed, and tragically, this may be the future for two wondrous national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
On December 4, 2017, President Trump announced plans to reduce Bears Ears National Monument by a staggering 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by 45 percent in order to open up the land for oil and gas extraction, mining, logging, and other commercial activities. This proposal is the largest reversal of federally-protected land in U.S. history.
Bears Ears National Monument was established as a national monument by President Obama in December 2016, and Grand Staircase-Escalante was set as a national monument by President Clinton in 1996. Both monuments are not only home to wildlife like bighorn sheep and elk and breathtaking natural wonders like towering rock formations, but they are also ecologically, historically, and culturally significant as the landscape holds fossils and ancient artifacts that existed long before the United States was ever established as a nation.
Several Native American tribes, including the Navajo Nation, consider the areas to be sacred, holding the history and burial grounds of their ancestors. Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation, said this about Trump’s proposal: “We will stand and fight all the way…[the United States government has already taken] millions of acres of my people’s land.”
However, all hope is not lost. As shown with Trump changing his opinion on trophy hunting after receiving widespread public backlash, so too can public opinion change the future of these national monuments.
A petition addressed to President Trump has been set up on Care2 to speak out against this decision. PLEASE make your voice heard and sign the petition, asking the President to reconsider this decision and put conservation of wildlife, natural lands, and cultural history ahead of financial interests.
There is great power in numbers, so please be sure to share this with your network. These lands belong to the American people, and we must all stand up to protect them.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons