Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 | 2 a.m.
It has been brought to my attention that the Trump administration is poised to attack America’s national monuments — the largest attack in U.S. history — which would result in a decline in leisure activities and historical sites on at least 3.5 million acres of public land. Every acre of the land attempted to be removed by the administration is no longer safeguarded against mining, drilling and logging; nonetheless, it would be illegal for the administrations to modify and eliminate boundaries of what currently exists, for only Congress has that capability.
This concept was established in 1933, when the Federal Land Policy and Management Act affirmed that Congress alone had authority in modifying national monuments. (Editor’s note: Some legal scholars dispute the claim that only Congress can modify monuments.)
The targeted monuments include Bear Ears in Utah; Cascade Siskiyou in Oregon and California, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts in the Atlantic Ocean; just to state a few.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s secret report proclaims that these areas would be used instead for mining, drilling and logging. In any sense, this administration is seeming to ignore what had been emplaced by the law, as it attempts to grant authorization to national monuments already opened for recreational use. By eliminating protected areas in the U.S., there would be a destruction of Native American archaeological sites, a loss of wildlife and an economic harm to local businesses. Much of what the Trump administration is striving for would cause changes in existing law. More focus should be placed on preserving what is already in place.