6/29: National Monuments in Peril

Please call or write Secretary of the Interior Zinke to voice your support for the Antiquities Act and all 27 of the Monuments now under attack, prior to the July 10th deadline for public comment.

Hi, my name is …, I’m a constituent from “i.e., Durango” zip code 81***.   I am in favor of retaining National Monument designations, preservation of the Antiquities Act, and protection of public lands.

  • Explain to Sec. Zinke why you treasure our federal public lands and especially our National Monuments.
  • Make it clear that you do care about the economic health of rural America and that in fact Monument declaration has proven time and again to be a driver of growth and jobs–not a deterrent.
  • Rural western counties with greater than 30% protected public lands have seen jobs increase by 345% over counties without protected public lands.

Call or write CO Senator Gardner and CO Representative Scott Tipton to:

  • Thank them for having already signed a joint letter expressing their support for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, here in southwest Colorado.
  • Then urge them to go further by issuing a second letter to Secretary Zinke with whole-hearted support for the Antiquities Act and the other 26 Monuments at risk.

Call or write CO Senator Bennett to:

  • Thank him for the letter he and Governor Hickenlooper already sent to Secretary Zinke, in which they urged him to refrain from modifying any National Monument designations in Colorado.
  • Then suggest he send a follow-up letter with whole-hearted support for the Antiquities Act and National Monuments everywhere.

Finally, demand that Senators Bennett and Gardner vote NO on S.33, should it advance to the floor.



  • Senator Michael Bennet     

(970) 259-1710 (Durango)    (202) 224-5852 (DC Office)   


  • Senator Cory Gardner   

(970) 415-7416 (Durango)   (202) 224-5941  (DC Office)



  • Representative Scott Tipton    

(970) 259-1490 (Durango) 202-225-4761 (DC Office)



To comment on our National Monuments, click on link below:  https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001


The Republican-controlled Congress and Administration are determined to remove as many protections for public lands as they possibly can.  These are lands that belong to the entire country – to ALL Americans. Our best hopes are to peel away some votes, and, as seems inevitable, eventually take the fight to the courts.


National Monuments in Peril


For over a century, Americans have benefited from protected public lands set aside as National Monuments by 16 different Presidents of the United States, both Republican and Democrat. Now, Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress are determined to curb the ability of future Presidents to proclaim new National Monuments, and are working to repeal Monument status from 27 of our most precious places*


Presidents can create National Monuments by virtue of the Antiquities Act of 1906. Congress enacted and President Theodore Roosevelt signed it into law at a time when opportunistic “pot hunters” were looting American Indian artifacts for profit. This Act delegated broad authority to the President to set aside federal lands deemed to hold significant historic, cultural or scientific value. Swift Presidential proclamation stood a better chance of preserving our rapidly vanishing federal resources, they reasoned, than slow-moving congressional intervention.

They were correct. The Antiquities Act empowered 16 presidents to declare 129 National Monuments, thereby protecting millions of acres from development and destruction. Congress later upgraded many of these Monuments to National Parks, but all began as Presidential decrees.

To be clear, the Antiquities Act only allows the President to create National Monuments from public lands that are already federally owned–and always have been. In other words, the Act has never allowed the seizure of state or private property; it only permits the President to change the status of existing federal lands from lesser to greater protection.

Further, Congress retains the right to be the ultimate arbiter of any declaration. It can choose later to rescind a Monument designation, alter its boundaries, change the rules by which it’s administered, upgrade it to National Park status, or simply fail to fund it. This gives American citizens the final word, through their elected congressional representatives, and dissuades abuse of the President’s power under the Act.

Since 1906, the creation of National Parks and Monuments has been a bipartisan affair. Many times there was vocal, local opposition, including against the creation of iconic Monuments like Grand Tetons, Zion, Acadia, and even Grand Canyon! But in each case opposition faded as the benefits of public lands protection became self-evident. Now, it’s impossible to imagine the United States of America—the country that invented the National Park—without our crown jewels.

Current Situation

Abandoning their former bipartisanship–remarkable even in its day–Republicans are now at war with National Monuments. Why? Unlike their predecessor and original Antiquities Act champion, Republican Teddy Roosevelt, they’re obliged to repay the extractive industries that helped elect them. Their weapons of choice? Lies and disinformation.

President Trump and Senator Orrin Hatch (R – UT) are claiming that new National Monuments are nothing but a “federal land grab,” in spite of the fact that all designated Monuments were federal lands to begin with! They further claim to want to take power “away from Washington bureaucrats and return it to the people,” despite a 2016 Harvard poll that showed 93% of Americans favor public lands protection. They falsely allege that ranchers, lumbermen and miners will immediately be put out of work, when in fact most National Monuments allow most existing uses to continue. And they wrongly claim that the Feds routinely fail to listen to impacted locals, when in fact each potential Monument designation includes an extensive written comment period and multiple public hearings prior to authorization.

In an effort to repay their electoral benefactors–lumber, ranching, minerals, oil and gas companies–Republicans are promoting full-scale industrial exploitation of federal public lands. To achieve this, they’re gunning to dilute the power of the Antiquities Act in two important ways:

First, Trump issued an Executive Order on 4/26/17 in which he ordered Secretary of the Interior Zinke to review the 27 National Monuments exceeding 100,000 acres that were decreed since 1996 by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. Trump alleges these presidents exceeded the powers granted them by the Antiquities Act and therefore wants to see these Monuments dramatically scaled back or even abolished. In his view, only by reducing “unnecessary federal regulations,” which in this case includes the stricter rules accompanying Monument status, will industry be free to cut, graze, mine and drill their way to corporate profits–at the people’s expense of course.

Trump’s Executive Order is unlikely to succeed, because the courts have never allowed a President to substantively alter a previous President’s Monument declaration. But if Secretary Zinke issues a damning report, claiming that any of the 27 Monuments in question were declared with inadequate local input, or were simply outside the scope of the Antiquities Act, Trump could use that argument to persuade a Republican-led Congress to do away with Monuments altogether.

Second, the Republican-led Congress introduced Senate Bill S.33 on 1/5/17, known as the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act. Cosponsored by 27 Republicans (no Democrats), this bill would gut the President’s authority to designate National Monuments by requiring that any new Monument also gain both state approval and congressional authorization.

Senate Bill 33, if passed by both houses and signed by the President, would mean one thing: game over.  We would likely see no new National Monuments, as attaining approval from each affected state’s legislature and governor, plus the U.S. Senate and House, would be so difficult and so time-consuming that it’s hard to imagine a single Monument surviving the gauntlet.


DEADLINE:  July 10, 2017

Losing any one of these Monuments will effectively endanger all of our Parks and Monuments by setting a perilous precedent. We cannot allow that to happen!

* List of 27 National Monuments at risk:

  • Basin and Range, Nevada
  • Bears Ears, Utah
  • Berryessa Snow Mountain, California
  • Canyons of the Ancients, Colorado
  • Carrizo Plain, California
  • Cascade Siskiyou, Oregon
  • Craters of the Moon, Idaho
  • Giant Sequoia, California
  • Gold Butte, Nevada
  • Grand Canyon-Parashant, Arizona
  • Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah
  • Hanford Reach, Washington
  • Ironwood Forest, Arizona
  • Mojave Trails, California
  • Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, New Mexico
  • Rio Grande del Norte, New Mexico
  • Sand to Snow, California
  • San Gabriel Mountains, California
  • Sonoran Desert, Arizona
  • Upper Missouri River Breaks, Montana
  • Vermillion Cliffs, Arizona
  • Katahadin Woods and Waters, Maine
  • Marianas Trench, Pacific Ocean
  • Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Atlantic Ocean
  • Pacific Remote Islands, Pacific Ocean
  • Papahanaumokuakea, Hawaii/Pacific Ocean
  • Rose Atoll, American Samoa/Pacific Ocean