On Sunday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke plans to travel to Utah to launch his “review” of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. His trip comes only ten months after former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell spent four days exhaustively touring the Bears Ears region listening to a range of proposals for the landscape’s future.

Zinke’s trip is part of President Trump’s executive order launching a review of dozens of America’s national monuments, starting with Grand Staircase-Escalante (designated in 1996) and ending with Bears Ears (designated in 2016, five months after Secretary Jewell’s visit).

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Written by on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

In the days following President Trump’s executive order triggering a review of 21 years of national monument designations, newspaper editorial boards across the West and the nation weighed in with swift and severe condemnations of the president’s actions.

Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

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Written by on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

In the days following President Trump’s executive order triggering a review of 21 years of national monument designations, newspaper editorial boards across the West and the nation weighed in with swift and severe condemnations of the president’s actions.

Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s national monuments have already justified themselves:

The president’s justification is built on factual sand. “Federal land grab”? Both monuments were already federal land before they were declared. “Preserving our land”? There is no argument to be made that monuments haven’t preserved land. “Free it up?” What does that even mean? Free to overgraze and drive wherever we want? We’ve been there, and no one wants that.

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Written by on Monday, May 1st, 2017

President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order placing 24 national monuments under “review,” thereby opening the door to remove or reduce protections for these cherished lands.

Response across the West was swift and severe. Leaders were quick to call out this action as a direct affront to America’s public lands legacy.

Here’s a roundup of what folks had to say:

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Written by on Thursday, April 27th, 2017

On Wednesday, President Trump traveled to the Department of the Interior, signing an executive order targeting our national monuments. The order will launch a review of national monuments designated in the last 21 years, a precursor to eliminating protections for some of our most spectacular lands. This is the beginning of an all-out assault on our national monuments, which have protected iconic places, from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty, since the passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906.

Here are five important things to know about today’s announcement from the president:

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Written by on Thursday, April 27th, 2017

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.

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Written by on Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Bears Ears National Monument, celebrated for its high concentration of cultural artifacts, remarkable vistas, and unparalleled recreational opportunities, is facing hardline ideological opposition from Utah’s leaders. In light of new data from the Center for Western Priorities, which show that the national monument shares significant overlap with the Public Lands Initiative (the failed legislative vehicle for protection touted by Utah’s elected leaders), this hostility looks to be increasingly unjustified.

The monument is only four months old. Now is the time for community members, Native Americans, ranchers, climbers, and ATVers — all those who love and rely on this living landscape — to come together and work with the Bureau of Land Management to develop a meaningful management plan. Instead, the future of Bears Ears National Monument is uncertain.

Utah’s governor and congressional delegation have launched an attack on Bears Ears, calling on President Trump to use his authority (likely illegally) under the Antiquities Act to wipe Bears Ears off the map. They say that the monument is the “wrong size” and goes “far beyond what is necessary to preserve sacred sites.”

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Written by on Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Oil industry lobbyists have made eliminating the “BLM methane waste rule” a top priority since Congress went back to work in 2017. The industry, which spent over $100 million supporting candidates for federal office in 2016, is now expecting politicians to fall in line and vote to scrap a rule whose stated purpose is to limit the waste of taxpayer-owned natural gas from energy operations on American public lands.

A bill to nix the common sense standards has already passed the House of Representatives, but has been stuck in the U.S. Senate for weeks without the votes to pass. Now, the pressure campaign from oil and gas industry lobbyists, including groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the Western Energy Alliance, is ramping up.

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Written by on Monday, April 24th, 2017

David Bernhardt, one of President Trump’s leading candidates for a top job at the Interior Department, has a long history of making money off of sketchy clients, ranging from a Ukranian-Russian-American oligarch’s oil conglomerate to a company looking to drain an aquifer underneath the California desert. Now Bernhardt is poised to cash in on a long list of conflicts of interest if he returns to the public sector.

Bernhardt is reported to be on the short list of candidates for Deputy Interior Secretary, the department that oversees America’s national parks and public lands. Bernhardt was the head of President Trump’s transition team at Interior, and now he’s angling for a position that would put him in charge of some of the most high-profile decisions made by the agency over the coming years. (more…)

Written by on Friday, April 21st, 2017

In this episode of Go West, Young Podcast, Congressman Raúl Grijalva, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, talks about President Trump’s executive order gutting climate protections, and which issues he hopes to work with Republicans on in the coming months.

Host/producer: Aaron Weiss
Feedback: podcast@westernpriorities.org
Music: Purple Planet

Written by on Thursday, March 30th, 2017

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Protected public lands are part of our Western heritage and deserve bipartisan support. @WstrnPriorities