President Trump is expected to issue an executive order Wednesday instructing the Department of the Interior to review 24 landscape-scale monuments protected over the last 21 years. The order is part of a direct attack on America’s parks, lands, and waters. Every indication from President Trump and politicians close to him is that the outcome is preordained: the review will be used to attempt to shrink or eliminate our national monuments.
The order could ultimately upend protections for millions of acres of public lands across the country by eliminating protections for 24 national monuments established since 1996 by President Clinton, President Bush, and President Obama. The order will review about 232 million acres of America’s lands and waters, including tens of thousands of archaeological sites, and numerous cultural and historic areas that celebrate America’s history, diversity, and natural beauty.
But that’s not the end of the story. White House documents leave the door open to target additional monuments if the Interior Secretary believes the designation was made without proper coordination with local stakeholders. This puts every monument designated since 1996 at serious risk.
These national monuments were set aside by presidents with the foresight to preserve deserving public lands in perpetuity for generations to come. Any attempt to reduce or remove recent national monuments is an erosion of the country’s system of protected public lands. An attack on even one of America’s national monuments is an attack on them all.