Editorial Board voted 20-3
It all began in 1906: the protection of land.
From there, the Antiquities Act, the National Park Service, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, etc. were born.
As of January of this year, 417 units have been added in the National Park System, with 59 national parks, 87 national monuments and 78 national historical sites, all of which cover more than 84 million acres.
And now, in 2017, we want to shrink this number.
We, as Scroll staff, stand behind the protection of public lands and want it to be known that we do not support the selling or diminishing of these national monuments that shape so much of this country.
On April 26, President Trump signed an executive order that can lead to the reduction or complete elimination of national monuments created since 1996.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is in the process of reviewing the 27 national monuments that are in question and is planning to have this assessment done by the end of August, according to The New York Times.
One of the most discussed national monuments in question is Bears Ears in Utah.
Bears Ears doesn’t only offer great expanses of land for public use, such as exploration and recreation, but is also the home of many native tribes, according to the Patagonia webpage.
Bears Ears has become such a big topic because of its size, which is roughly 2,000 square miles and, according to npr.org, “…is said to be encroaching on the rights of Utah residents.”
The rights these residents are concerned about is their ability to develop oil and gas drilling in these areas, according to NPR.
On the other side, native tribes and users of the public lands are concerned about clean air and water and the protection of archaeological sites containing tribal artifacts, according to National Geographic.
The concerns these Utah residents are facing shouldn’t be a priority. More harm than good will come from oil and gas drilling in these areas.
The struggle here shouldn’t be about money, but that is where we are putting it. It should be about human life and the world around us.
With this monetary blindfold being placed over our eyes, it is hard to see the world around us and how our physical actions can affect not only the land and people now, but generations later if there is anything left.
Unfortunately, if we, in the words of President Trump, in his remarks at the Interior Department, “free it up” and “return control to the people” there would be more economic struggles and less care for the land.
Because the federal government owns a great deal of land, they also come with the responsibility of making decisions in regard to recreation, habitat and wildlife conservation, mining, logging, grazing and oil and gas drilling.
The federal government balances all of these aspects of balancing priorities and funding. This is something many states couldn’t afford to manage.
Revealnews.org reported that states couldn’t afford to manage this much public land unless they open more of it to natural resource extraction.
In a study produced by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research prepared by the University of Utah, Utah State University and Weber State University on the transfer of federal lands to the state in Utah found that a land transfer of this magnitude would mean a major shift in the current economic structure for the state.
This study also showed that the research included how public lands contribute to the economic growth of local economies and the quality of life of Utah citizens.
The review of national monuments to give the land back to the states shouldn’t be in consideration. According to headwaterseconomic.org, these states perform better on the economic stage with federally funded public lands.
We can begin taking a stand by signing the petition by Patagonia to support Bears Ears National Monument. Until July 9, you can speak up at bearsears.patagonia.com/take-action.
We must use our public lands for good and take a stand.
We need land that isn’t flooded with industry and poor air quality.
We need land that will last.
We need to sign petitions and our voices need to be heard.
We must protect our public lands.
We must remember the words from the famous song by Woody Guthrie, “This land was made for you and me.”