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Capitol Hill is teeming with members of the outdoor industry fighting for public lands this week, yet steps away, President Trump orders Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review National Monuments.
At the precise moment that 130 members of the outdoor industry were gathered on Capitol Hill this morning to talk to legislative representatives about the value of the outdoor recreation economy and the importance of protecting public lands, President Trump, a few blocks away in the Whitehouse signed an executive order that to many feels like a huge step backwards. And an exercise in hypocrisy.
The Antiquities Act Executive Order directs Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to consult local governments and tribes in order to review national monuments created by the Antiquities Act since January 1, 1996, that are greater than 100,000 acres in footprint. This amounts to approximately 30 national monuments including Grand Staircase (created by President Bill Clinton in 1996) and Bears Ears (created by President Barack Obama in 2016). Zinke will report back to the President on suggested legislative or executive action (which designations should be lifted or altered), within 120 days.
Amy Roberts, Executive Director of OIA, said she is “very concerned.”
Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario promptly issued a statement: “We take this as a sign that Trump and his team prefer to cater to fossil fuel interests and state land grabs for unsustainable development, rather than preserve a vital part of our nation’s heritage for future generations by protecting federal lands owned by every citizen.” She goes on to say that Patagonia is watching the Trump administration’s actions very closely and “preparing to take every step necessary, including legal action, to defend our most treasured public landscapes from coast to coast.”
What the Executive Order does do:
* The Executive Order directs the Department of the Interior to review monuments designated using the Antiquities Act as of January 1, 1996, that are in excess of 100,000 acres, or monuments that were expanded without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.
* This Executive Order restores trust between local communities and Washington and roots out abuses of power by previous administrations.
* This Executive Order puts America and the Department of the Interior back on track to manage our federal lands in accordance to traditional “multiple-use” philosophy by directing the Secretary of the Interior to make recommendations to the President on whether a monument should be rescinded, resized in order to better manage our federal lands.
* This Executive Order gives rural communities across America a voice and restores land use planning by directing the Secretary of the Interior to consult and coordinate with the Governors of States affected by monument designations or other relevant officials of affected State, Tribal, and local governments.
What the Executive Order doesn’t do:
* This Executive Order does NOT strip any monument of a designation.
* This Executive Order does NOT loosen any environmental or conservation regulations on any land or marine areas.
CEO of REI, Jerry Stritzke, also issued a statement this morning saying in part: “REI is engaging directly with our elected officials from both parties. We’re working across the outdoor industry to ensure that our collective passion for public lands and their economic and societal value is clear. Our 16 million members can be assured that we believe – as Teddy Roosevelt said – our public lands should be left stronger and healthier for future generations.”
In a press conference yesterday Secretary Zinke was asked if, at the end of this review process, whether he thinks he will recommend changes to the Antiquities Act.
“I’m a Teddy Roosevelt guy,” he responded. “And so I think, when the Antiquities Act came out, I think we should all recognize that, by and large, the Antiquities Act and the monuments that we have protected have done a great service to the public and are some of our most treasured lands in this country. So this is an enormous responsibility I have to make recommendations that are appropriate, that follow the law. But no one loves our public lands more than I. You could love them as much, but you can’t love them more than I do.”