Last week we found out the details of Interior Secretary Zinke’s secret report on national monuments. Not surprisingly, Zinke ignored the overwhelmingly positive public comments his Interior Department received: Ninety-nine percent of the 2.8 million comments supported the continuing protection of our national monuments. Instead, Zinke once again caved in to a small, powerful group of pro-development corporations and their political mouthpieces. One such politician, Utah’s Gov. Herbert, recommends shrinking the new Bears Ears National Monument from 1.3 million acres to just 120,000 acres – a 90 percent reduction.
In addition to axing the acreage of Bears Ears, Zinke advocates allowing what he calls “traditional uses” in Bears Ears, but it’s probably not what you’re thinking: camping, hiking, hunting, even some well-managed firewood gathering and grazing, right? No. The phrase “traditional uses” in Zinke’s world means mining, logging and drilling. Not exactly the activities you associate with protected public lands.
So, if the Trump administration and its corporate rulers have their way, instead of having access to a 1.3-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument created to protect cultural sites and the surrounding ecosystem, a visitor to the area could confront “NO TRESPASSING” signs, clear-cut forests, drilling rigs and destroyed artifact sites. Any long-term economic gain from a sustainable tourism industry would be sacrificed for the quick boom and bust, benefiting the usual few culprits. And Native American groups who revere this land and have worked so hard to protect it would once again be betrayed by the U.S. government.
If we don’t want to add the dismantling of the Bears Ears National Monument to the increasing list of travesties perpetrated on the American people by Trump and his corporate cronies, we’ve got to stand up and let our voices be heard. Call Zinke. Call your local, state and national politicians. Tell them that you support Bears Ears and the other threatened national monuments for all Americans.