Donald Trump has ordered the Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review 27 National Monuments designated by the Antiquities Act over the past 21 years to look for “abuses” of the act.

As part of that process, the public is being invited to weigh in on the review as a whole via written comments or an online portal. The White House is calling it the “first ever formal public comment period for members of the public to officially weigh in on monument designations under the Antiquities Act of 1906,” which of course ignores the years-long process of proposals, legislative efforts, and public comments that went into the vast majority of these monuments.

The land-based Monuments under review are listed below, by state:

Arizona

  • Grand Canyon-Parashant
  • Ironwood Forest
  • Sonoran Desert
  • Vermillion Cliffs

California

  • Berryessa Snow Mountain
  • Carrizo Plain
  • Giant Sequoia
  • Mojave Trails
  • Sand to Snow
  • San Gabriel Mountains

Colorado

  • Canyons of the Ancients

Idaho

  • Craters of the Moon

Maine

  • Katahadin Woods and Waters

Montana

  • Upper Missouri River Breaks

Nevada

  • Basin and Range
  • Gold Butte

New Mexico

  • Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks
  • Rio Grande del Norte

Oregon

  • Cascade Siskiyou

Utah

  • Bears Ears
  • Grand Staircase-Escalante

Washington

  • Hanford Reach

In addition to the 22 land-based National Monuments, five marine National Monuments are being “reviewed” in accordance with the “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” executive order:

  • Marianas Trench
  • Northeast Canyons and Seamounts
  • Pacific Remote Islands
  • Papahanaumokuakea
  • Rose Atoll

Valley of the Gods, Bears Ears National Monument. Photo by BLM. Creative Commons usage.

What are these Monuments being reviewed for?

According to the summary of the notice posted by the Department of the Interior, the review is “to determine whether each designation or expansion conforms to the policy stated in the Executive Order and to formulate recommendations for Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other appropriate actions to carry out that policy.”

The executive order directs the Secretary to consider:

  1. The language of the Antiquities Act stating “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
  2. Whether designated lands are appropriately classified as “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest.”
  3. The effects of a designation on the available uses of designated Federal lands, including consideration of the multiple-use policy (emphasis ours) of section 102(a)(7) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1701(a)(7)), as well as the effects on the available uses of Federal lands beyond the monument boundaries.
  4. The effects of a designation on the use and enjoyment of non-Federal lands within or beyond monument boundaries.
  5. Concerns of State, tribal, and local governments affected by a designation, including the economic development and fiscal condition of affected States, tribes, and localities.
  6. The availability of Federal resources to properly manage designated areas.
  7. Other factors as the Secretary deems appropriate.

How do I comment?

Beginning today, May 11, 2017, citizens can comment on the review by mail or through an online platform.

You may mail your written comments to:

Monument Review 

MS-1530

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20240

Online comments may be submitted via regulations.gov by searching for “DOI-2017-0002” or by using this direct link.

Note that all comments – including any personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time.

Comments related to Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted before May 26, 2017. Comments relating to all other National Monuments must be submitted before July 10,2017.

You can also comment via the portal Monuments for All, a nonpartisan group that wants to deliver comments in bulk so they can announce exactly how many people support Monuments.

Where can I learn more about the Antiquities Act and National Monument history?

Hey, guess what? We just did a fun deep-dive answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the 1906 law. You should check it out!

Should I be worried about any of these Monuments?

If there’s oil, natural gas, or coal under the land or water of a Monument, you might have reason to be worried.

The vast majority of critics of this order seem to be in agreement that this is all part of an effort to expand extractive industries for private profit on public lands.

The most contested of these Monuments have always seemed to be Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, both of which – along with nearby Canyon of the Ancients – have fossil fuels beneath them. While those two Monuments have received the majority of headline coverage, California’s Carrizo Plain also sits near oil deposits and some oil companies maintain mineral rights below the protected lands in the Monument, and the Mojave Trails National Monument is under threat from the controversial Cadiz Water Project, which aims to drain an aquifer in the Mojave desert to water urban lawns in Orange County.

Secretary Zinke has toured the Monuments in Utah but spent significantly more time with anti-Monument groups and legislators than with pro-Monument ones. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that he only spent 90 minutes with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and Friends of Cedar Mesa while “traveling extensively with anti-monument heavyweights” including Governor Gary Herbert — who literally chased the outdoor recreation industry’s $45 million / year Outdoor Retailer conventions out of Salt Lake City by refusing to tone down his anti-public land stances — and Representative Mike Noel, who took Zinke to the Grand-Canyon Escalante National Monument not to gaze upon the pristine and unique landscape, but to look at a seam of coal.

Rep. Mike Noel (center) and Sec. Ryan Zinke (R) looking at coal. Photo by Matthew Gross / Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

No coal here! Worthless! Grand Staircase-Escalante by BLM. Used by Creative Commons.

Zinke refused to meet with the Utah Dine Bikeyah, a Navajo nonprofit working to preserve sacred lands and artifacts that was instrumental in the formation of Bears Ears National Monument (the first National Monument formed at the request of a coalition of Native American groups), or the 49 members of the Escalante-Boulder Chamber of Commerce, who unanimously oppose downsizing their nearby Monument — and instead chose to spend time hiking with a Utah political operative with ties to the Koch brothers.

Also, in some moments caught on video by the Center for Western Priorities, Secretary Zinke seemed to not know what activities or provisions are allowed in the existing Monuments and made an offhand statement that seemed to imply he had already made up a decision on removing Monument designation:

What should I write about in my comments?

You should write about whatever moves you.

Maybe you had a personal visit that was transformative.

Maybe you want to highlight the unique and innovative history of the Antiquities Act and how time and time again it has provided the American people with cultural, spiritual, and economic rewards that far outweigh gains from short-term extractive uses.

Maybe you want to talk about the effect of public lands on your nearby business.

Maybe you want to fact-check some of the claims of anti-monument legislators.

Maybe you want to remind them that the vast majority of legal scholars seem to agree that Presidents cannot rescind or undo designations by previous Presidents without an act of Congress. (Here are five good examples, as well as one refutation of the opinion of the Koch Brothers-connected conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute for good measure).

Maybe you want to highlight the fact public lands like these Monuments enjoy broad public support both locally and nationally, and the ones that didn’t initially now favor Monument status by an overwhelming margin.

Or maybe because Zinke fancies himself in the mold of Theodore Roosevelt, you just want to close with these lines from TR’s ‘New Nationalism‘ speech, delivered in 1910 but still relevant today:

Moreover, I believe that the natural resources must be used for the benefit of all our people, and not monopolized for the benefit of the few, and here again is another case in which I am accused of taking a revolutionary attitude. People forget now that one hundred years ago there were public men of good character who advocated the nation selling its public lands in great quantities, so that the nation could get the most money out of it, and giving it to the men who could cultivate it for their own uses. We took the proper democratic ground that the land should be granted in small sections to the men who were actually to till it and live on it. Now, with the water power, with the forests, with the mines, we are brought face to face with the fact that there are many people who will go with us in conserving the resources only if they are to be allowed to exploit them for their benefit. That is one of the fundamental reasons why the special interests should be driven out of politics. 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, and training them into a better race to inhabit the land and pass it on. Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation. Let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving as their forests, waters, lands, and minerals, and in this great work the national government must bear a most important part.

Just remember to tell them something — and to do it before May 26th if you’re talking about Bears Ears.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker, Author of "Day Hiking Los Angeles," Walking Meditator, Native Plant Enthusiast.

21 Comments

Diane Wood

Diane Wood May 23, 2017 09:05

Theodore Roosevelt is credited with the start of saving and preserving land for all Americans and future Americans. I have visited and hiked many of these national monuments. Bears Ears in Utah is beautiful. Citizens in Utah want to preserve it. In Maine, the Katahadin Woods and Waters was given to the government for preservation for all citizens to enjoy. Why do you wish to rape it? Besides it was not federal BLM land to begin with. There are also sacred lands that the Navajo indians wish to save. We took the land from the Indians. Listen to their wish to preserve these sacred lands. All of the national monuments are beautiful and valuable to Americans. They were selected so citizens of our country could enjoy these areas.

Your only desire is to rape the land, kill wildlife and prevent our citizens from enjoying the beauty and openness of our country. Once again, Dept of the Interior and Trump wishes to award monies to coal, lumber, oil. Do you have no conscience? This administration in addition to killing millions of Americans with healthcare laws, wishes also to take away these beautiful monuments, destroying the countryside, destroying wildlife, destroying sacred lands, ripping apart and raping. You guys are pathetic!

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David Rosenquist May 21, 2017 10:05

Respect President Theodore Roosevelt and those presidents who followed:

"Moreover, I believe that the natural resources must be used for the benefit of all our people, and not monopolized for the benefit of the few, and here again is another case in which I am accused of taking a revolutionary attitude. People forget now that one hundred years ago there were public men of good character who advocated the nation selling its public lands in great quantities, so that the nation could get the most money out of it, and giving it to the men who could cultivate it for their own uses. We took the proper democratic ground that the land should be granted in small sections to the men who were actually to till it and live on it. Now, with the water power, with the forests, with the mines, we are brought face to face with the fact that there are many people who will go with us in conserving the resources only if they are to be allowed to exploit them for their benefit. That is one of the fundamental reasons why the special interests should be driven out of politics. 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, and training them into a better race to inhabit the land and pass it on. Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation. Let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving as their forests, waters, lands, and minerals, and in this great work the national government must bear a most important part."

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Casey Schreiner May 16, 2017 14:05In reply to: Camilla Valadez

Make sure you're also commenting on the Monument order -- that's the only place they're entered into the public record :)

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Camilla Valadez May 16, 2017 13:05

Dear Ryan Zinke,

The Escalante National Monument of Utah should remain protected by the Antiquities Act of 1906. Many Native Americans are settled in the area and such an area should be respected. A lack of protection for the area would encourage private companies to have what they’d like with the area, and exploit the homes of people. Prohibiting the stability of a people in a certain living situation for the benefit of private enterprise in unAmerican.

Sincerely,
Camilla Valadez
Hawthorne, CA.

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Diane Loudermilk May 16, 2017 06:05

National Parks and monuments are for everyone. We want future generations to be able to enjoy them. Sad if all they will see is in books and photos of what we took from them. SAVE our Parks and Monuments.

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Daily Grab Back: Daily Newsletter 5/15/2017 - WhatDoIDoAboutTrump.com May 16, 2017 05:05

[…] asking you to let them have it with both barrels about plundering our pristine wild places. Read this excellent piece on how to effectively craft your comments, and either comment online as we linked […]

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justin May 15, 2017 16:05

Trump wants to level all of America's beauty and put in some gaudy towers that no one wants to live in. Then file bankruptcy.

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claudia taylor May 15, 2017 08:05

I support the preservation and stewardship of all of America's great national monuments. I support the Antiquities Act- as well as all treaties that pertain to our tribal lands.

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Megan Wilson May 14, 2017 09:05In reply to: Casey Schreiner

What Secretary Zimke and so many others in Washington are failing to remember is that we are only temporary custodians of this land, put in charge of it until someone responsible enough can step forth to take our place. That unfortunately has not happened, and these lands have been protected since Theodore Roosevelt signed it into being with The Antiquities Act of 1906, (Pub.L. 59–209, 34 Stat.225, 16 U.S.C.§ 431–433). For further reading on the intended purpose of the Antiquities Act please see https://www.nps.gov/archeology/tools/Laws/AntAct.htm

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Helen May 14, 2017 09:05

More than awful

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H Weatherford May 13, 2017 09:05

Would those seeking to scar and deface these unique locations still do it if all the proceeds were used to decrease the national debt,for instance, or be shared as is done in Alaska? I doubt it. I am for protecting see one of a kind monuments especially if other energy sources can be utilized like solar, wind and current, in locations that are not quite so special-- even if a bit more inconvenient financially speaking. Stop Big Money abuse in thanking of more Big Money.

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Casey Schreiner May 13, 2017 08:05In reply to: Colin Bartol

Looks like the page is back up but the number of comments hasn't increased yet ...

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Kim Mayer May 13, 2017 06:05

I fail to understand how there can be abuse when designating protected natural areas. Do u care about your grandchildren or their children? Do you not want them to appreciate the world around them? A world not filled with toxic chemicals? We need to be conserving all of our resources, both natural and energy. What are you leaving your children.....

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Robin Rufe May 13, 2017 04:05

I'm having difficulty getting in to the site. Looks like it is down. I'm going to keep trying, but your hyperlinks are leading me nowhere at the moment.

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Colin Bartol May 12, 2017 23:05

I cannot get the page to comment to load. It sure seems like they want feedback...

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Scott Jones May 12, 2017 15:05In reply to: Paul Little

It wouldn't hurt, Paul. I'd make sure you call Sec Zinke too (202-208-7351) and tell him that your tourist dollars support local communities near these national treasures.

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Eileen May 12, 2017 15:05In reply to: Casey Schreiner

I'm retired.. I love our national monuments and parks... And you are correct in my opinion. I meet so many foreigners in our National Parks. They don't have this in their countries according to my questionnaire and that's why they visit America. They are amazed at our beauty and foresight to save the lands. And they spend a lot of money here as well.

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Casey Schreiner May 12, 2017 13:05In reply to: Paul Little

Paul,

Not 100% sure, but it's definitely worth a shot! I've definitely been to some parks and monuments where the foreign tourists and hikers far outnumber the American ones :)

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Paul Little May 12, 2017 13:05

I know it says citizens but could regular visitors to the US have a say on one of our reasons fir traveling there?

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Robert DeAngelis May 12, 2017 08:05

Vehemently against defunding any of the National Monuments, in fact I think in many cases the funds to protect them and maintain them should be increased. Funds for this could be realized from the retirement fund for retired politicians and their healthcare funds, as well as their per diem and T&E accounts (of which they shouldn't be entitled to anyway)

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Neara Russell May 12, 2017 01:05

Thanks for the comprehensive report! Submitting my comment now, and sharing your post.

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