National Monument Recommendations
Recently, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made a recommendation to President Donald Trump that changes be made to more than ten different National Monuments, the one receiving most attention being Utah’s Bears Ears. This recommendation includes the reduction of several protected areas and alterations in the management of those monuments. Under these proposed modifications, “national monuments would lose their strict protection and could be reopened for new mining or drilling” (NY Times). The main source of controversy and the reason this proposal is so significant comes in the discussion of human’s rights, and their access to these National Monuments. The reason I find these proposed recommendations to be so significant is because, if it passes, it could potentially put dozens of other National Monuments at risk in the future.
It appears that the root of the controversy comes down to determining the consequences that could result from decisions made concerning more than 10 National Monuments. Those in favor of Zinke’s proposal agree that the land should be returned back to the states and to free up the “land and water “locked up” by the government” (LA Times). Proponents also side with the argument that there are many opportunities for economic growth if the National Monument borders were to shrink. There are several activist groups that have taken a stand against Zinke’s suggestions, one of which being the Access Fund. The Access Fund is an organization whose mission is “to protect climbing access and the integrity of America’s outdoor climbing areas” many of which reside in National Monuments (Access Fund). Zinke’s proposal “will determine the fate of the many climbing areas in our national monuments” (Access Fund). The Access Fund is one of several groups that has taken a similar stand.
After doing some initial research I have decided that I am against Zinke’s proposed recommendations. My main concern with this proposal and my reason for siding against Zinke and with organizations such as the Access Fund is due to allowing human access to public lands, specifically for recreational and cultural reasons. The modifications being suggested could limit the access of land for many purposes, and I am fearful “that Zinke’s review of national monuments hasn’t considered the concerns of the majority of stakeholders” (Access Fund).