Hey, queens that like to hike and camp: President Obama designated several new National Monuments under the authority of the 1906 Antiquities Act, including The Stonewall Inn, the first National Monument to honor the LGBTQ Rights Movement, and far away in Utah, the Bears Ears National Monument. The monument encompasses more than 2,000 square miles.
It has long been fought over by environmentalists, native tribes, and energy, ranching and development interests.
Now, POTUS plans to roll back the size of Bear Ears by as much as 90%.
Secretary of Interior and noted White Nationalist Ryan “Stinky” Zinke claims that the monument designation is “not the best use of the land”. Potus and Zinke plan to roll back the boundaries to protect only the areas that include historic and prehistoric structures, such as archaeological sites and remains of ancient dwellings. The monument, as it stands now, is a vast area of red rock canyons named for two towering buttes called the Bears Ears. It is home to 100,000 archaeological sites.
The Antiquities Act, signed by Theodore Roosevelt, gives presidents the authority to protect designated areas as public monuments. In the past 110 years since its passage, presidents have used the law to protect millions of acres of public lands, including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, The Everglades, The Great Smokey Mountains, Muir Woods and NYC’s Ellis Island.
Republicans have criticized Obama for what they view as overuse of the act. They claim that the monument designation stifles the right of locals to hunt and graze cattle. But, that is a lie, of course; they can do both with only some limitations. The move to reduce the size of Bears Ears and nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly half will open both up for oil drilling, mining, logging and other development. President Bill Clinton created Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996.
No president has ever used his authority to eliminate or drastically reduce the size of a monument. POTUS is determined to undo everything that his African-American predecessor accomplished.
Obama created Bears Ears National Monument in the final days of his presidency. It was the result of a years of lobbying from a coalition of Native American tribes and conservation groups. The designation was vehemently opposed by Utah’s congressional delegation, with Republican lawmakers vowing to undo the designation. The GOP also said they would attempt to repeal the 1906 Antiquities Act.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said:
“The decision to reduce Bears Ears is being made with no tribal consultation. The Navajo Nation will defend Bears Ears. The reduction in the size of the monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision.”
Groups that oppose the president’s move include: National Parks Conservation Association, National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, The Conservation League, the Center for Western Priorities, and others. The groups have promised to sue.
What’s next, open up the Stonewall Inn to fracking?
This Administration’s plans would mean the largest reduction in federal land is history. Remember, this is public land. It belongs to us!