Stand up for our public lands and monuments

A couple of weeks ago, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke leaked some information about his recommendations to Trump in his national monuments review, which is rumored to encompass specific recommendations for reductions to four national monuments, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. Around the same time, Trump himself announced his plans to visit Utah and file an executive order following Zinke’s recommendations while he is here during the week of December 4th.
According to Ron Dean, the Central and Eastern Utah Director from Senator Hatch’s office who testified before the UT State Legislature’s Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands on November 14th, the executive order is expected to reduce Bear Ears to 100-300K acres and Grand Staircase Escalante to 700K-1.2 million acres.
In the meantime, Rep. Rob Bishop has been systematically hacking away at the Antiquities Act in hopes of greatly restricting future use of it. Some state legislators support this, citing only absurdist hypothetical situations as rationale  (such as the potential for a president to declare a 30 million acre national monument in Utah).
Unfortunate news for public lands nevertheless leaves community members with options to advocate for better public lands policy. Here’s what you can do.

CALL TO ACTION

  • Write. Use the latest news as an excuse to write your opinion in a letter to the editor to your local paper. Letters take 15 minutes to write and require no previous experience. Check out our TIPS on How to Write an Effective Letter to the Editor here. Feel free to send us your drafts for copyediting help. And always send us published letters so we can repost them and get them more attention!
  • Give. An executive order to reduce national monument size may or may not be legal, but regardless, a slurry of lawsuits is expected to follow. If you oppose the executive order, donate what you can to the lawsuit efforts.
  • Protest. If protest is your preferred method, join the Dec 2 Rally Against Trump’s Monumental Mistake (1-2:30p at the State Capitol Rotunda on Capitol Hill) during Trump’s visit to Utah. There will also be a street protest on December 4th (time and location TBD — text keyword UTAH to 52886 to get text alerts about this or click here).
  • Share. Care about this issue? Spread the word to others by sharing this action. And continue to spread important op-eds and articles across social media for local and out-of-state audiences alike, such as:

Deseret News oped by state legislator Rep. Chavez Houck: “Leave Utah’s monuments alone
CBS News: “How Trump’s national monument decision could affect massive deposit of fossils
The Atlantic: “Is America’s ‘Best Idea’ at Stake?
High Country News oped: “Don’t trim Grand Staircase. If anything, expand it.
SF Chronicle oped by a former director of the National Parks Service: “Bears Ears perfects America’s best idea by including tribes
NY Times oped: “Trump Attacks Teddy Roosevelt’s Grand Legacy
SL Tribune: “Southern Utah businesses united in keeping Grand Staircase-Escalante protected
High Country News: “What could be lost in a push for mining in monuments

A Note About Messaging

We always encourage you to search for messages that appeal to both sides of the aisle and that monument opponents have the best chance of hearing. Although a majority of Utahns want to see our national monuments kept in place, a majority of our representatives at the local, state and federal level disagree. It is important to note that our local, state and federal representatives all state that they do not oppose National Parks and are in favor of protecting the “health and vitality” of public lands. They simply disagree with a majority of Utah voters about how to do so and fail to recognize that disparity. This is why calls to “protect” our lands are largely ineffective. One great way to learn what wording and messages impact our legislators is to attend town halls and legislative meetings at the Capitol or to listen to audio recordings of legislative hearings and floor sessions via the state legislative website: le.utah.gov.

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