Ninety-Seven Percent of Americans Agree: Monuments Matter
National monuments matter. They matter to hikers, campers, bikers, skiers, hunters, fishers, Native Americans, archeologists, and historians. They matter to young and old, rich and poor; to locals and to far-flung celebrities. They matter to the outdoor industry. They matter to you and me
That’s the message more than 181,000 Americans have given to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, tasked by President Trump with reviewing 27 federally protected national monuments. Complaining that national monuments “unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control,” Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all national monuments larger than 100,000 acres created since 1996. There are 27 in total.
In the initial 15-day comment period specifically pertaining to Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, 57,000 comments poured in via regulations.gov—with some groups, such as Bears Ears Coalition, estimating that number at as many as 685,000 comments. (Multiple comments bundled by an organization and submitted to regulations.gov register as just one comment.)
We’ve scoured the regulations.gov comments as well as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other media to survey the responses. Here’s what people have to say:
*Click on an image to expand it and to scroll through the gallery.
The regulations.gov site doesn’t track the comments sent in via mail, or, as Navajo Nation council delegate Davis Filfred points out, the number of passionate Native Americans left out of the online comment process due to lack of internet service on reservation lands. But according to research from the Center for Western Priorities, of the 181,118 comments as of press time on the monuments-review process, 97 percent expressed support for national monument designations.
The Not-So-Silent Majority Have Spoken
That’s a vast majority of Americans in favor of protecting the status of our national monuments. Despite that overwhelming support, on Monday, Secretary Zinke issued an interim recommendation to President Trump to reduce and potentially break up the Bears Ears National Monument and the protection it provides into sub-divisions that may or may not ensure protections for the recreation assets within the current monument going forward.
We are concerned that the recommended boundary revisions and multiple legislative land designations proposed within the current monument may affect important recreation assets throughout the landscape. We will work closely with Interior and the recreation community in the coming months to ensure these assets are protected.” —OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts, June 12, 2017
Indeed the fight isn’t over. Comments continue to pour in—as of writing this, there were nearly 150,000 comments on regulations.gov. And, Secretary Zinke announced on Monday that he will continue to accept comments on all the monuments under review, including Bears Earst, until July 10. If you haven’t yet added your voice, register your comments today at OIA’s Advocacy Center(comments are filed directly to www.regulations.gov).
It’s your opportunity to speak up and tell Secretary Zinke that national monuments matter.