Our National Monuments have recently been described as nothing more than "federal land grabs." This term is as misguided as the people that use it.
Native American tribes banded together to build support in favor of preserving and protecting the area around Bears Ears, which ultimately became Bears Ears National Monument. It was an enormous victory for a grass roots native movement and gave an ever-increasing outdoor-oriented American public a new target to explore and discover through endless hiking and outdoor recreational activities. It preserved countless artifacts, pueblos, and sacred sites. And it also angered a small band of Utah politicians who wanted to exploit the land for oil and gas development, the sole beneficiaries of which would be those very politicians and the shrinking fossil fuel industries that were eyeing the land.
The area was safe though. Obama had preserved it as a National Monument, a designation that had withstood countless tests and trials over the past century. And then Trump got elected. With an agenda to undo everything that the American public had asked for, he made Bears Ears National Monument a target, determined to undo the designation, or at the very least, reduce its size. Not content with just one monument, he arbitrarily went back to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s designation (it’s no coincidence that that’s in southern Utah as well). Now, over 20 National Monuments are under threat. These natural treasures could potentially be taken away from the American public and the Native Americans who worked so hard to unite to reclaim a small percentage of the land that was so ruthlessly taken from them centuries ago.
Ironically, now that the land is back in the hands of its rightful owners, the federal government is now threatening a "federal land grab" to remove designations that have become some of the most popular getaways for hiking, climbing, and general outdoor enthusiasts. The only supporters are corrupt politicians who want to exploit the land for short-term gain, forever altering places that have become favorite destinations for the American public.
There is a comment period still open, but that window is about as minimal as it could be. Please, submit your comments on Bears Ears and National Monuments here. This may be the only chance we have to preserve what have become some of the greatest treasures in the American West.
Need some inspiration? This was my comment:
Bears Ears and other National Monuments were only just recently returned to their rightful owners – the natives who called them home for tens of thousands of years and the American public. The vast majority of both overwhelmingly support having these national monuments and many more across the land. These were not "federal land grabs" as they’ve been inaccurately referred to. Instead, a better term for them would be federal land returns. The only threat of a federal land grab is coming from the current administration to hand it over to a few corrupt politicians, taking it away from the American public.
Listen to the people of the country you were represented to lead. They want these and many more national monuments, and more importantly, the economy supports it.