The Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke presented recommendations to President Trump to scale back boundaries and make changes to several different national monuments. Those that are opposed to these projected adjustments are primarily concerned with how public access will be affected by the changes if the national monuments are no longer protected. The rights of several Native American tribes are also a main interest in the discussion of what would happen if President Trump were to act on the recommendations. If put into place, these recommendations would allow for developments such as mining and drilling, and individuals are concerned for the environmental impact that this could have. Morally, the right thing to do in this situation would be to leave the boundaries of the national monuments and to continue to enforce the protection of public access to lands while maintaining preservation of the environment as a whole.
The Access Fund is an organization that has clearly taken a stance against Zinke’s proposed recommendations. The Access Fund’s primary mission is to protect access to the many outdoor climbing areas across America, so naturally they are concerned about the effects Zinke’s proposal could have with shrinking the boundaries of many national monuments. The Access Fund’s primary concern is that the uses of national monuments for recreational purposes will be limited, and they are passionate about preventing restrictions. “Today 1 in 5 climbing areas in the United States is threatened by an access issue-whether it’s private land lost to development, public land managers over-regulating climbing, or climber impacts degrading the environment, the list of threats is long and constantly evolving,” which is why Zinke’s proposal is rather alarming to many climbers (Access Fund). Activists who are in support of the Access Fund along with many other “concerned Americans” have written more than two million letters urging Zinke to rethink some of his considerations, but it appears as if many of their concerns have not been properly addressed (Access Fund). It is the hope of the Access Fund that “in the future, Secretary Zinke will invite all stakeholders to the table when making critical decisions that affect our shared public lands and heritage,” and truly take into consideration the interests of all Americans (Access Fund). In general the Access Fund is against Zinke’s proposal because ethically, it would be ignoring the rights of many Americans. The argument of the Access Fund is unique because it appeals to a specific population of individuals, rock climbers, who are activists in their community, and this is evident in their factual claims.
In addition to the Access Fund, companies such as Patagonia have reached out to Zinke to express their disapproval in his recommendations. The Founder, Yvon Chouinard, and President and CEO, Rose Marcario, of Patagonia have voiced their concerns in a letter addressed to Zinke on May 5, 2017. In the letter they state that “Patagonia has been outfitting outdoors people and protecting public lands for more than thirty years,” and that is a mission they intend to uphold (Patagonia). In the letter Chouinard and Marcario make several factual claims that present a valid argument for reasons why Zinke’s recommendations should not be put into practice. Some of those claims include the fact that, “the recreation economy drives $887 billion in consumer spending every year and supports more jobs (7.6 million) than oil, natural gas and mining combined,” and that “rescinding or shrinking the National Monuments under review would significantly impact the strength of the outdoor recreation economy and limit our ability to create and sustain jobs” implying that it is morally wrong and thoughtless to continue to pursue the reductions (Patagonia). The strongest moral statement that Patagonia makes against Zinke’s proposal is that one hundred and twenty days was entirety too short of a time period for Zinke to compose a report on dozens of national monuments. He indicates that, “the process to establish National Monuments often takes years, if not decades,” and that the process “involves significant study of the area of the proposed monument-including its ecological, cultural, archaeological, economic and recreation value,” and there is no way this amount of extensive research was able to be conducted on dozens of monuments in only four months (Patagonia). Patagonia expresses their concerns for the nation’s legacy while indicating that Zinke was careless and insensitive to the desires of many Americans. Patagonia’s argument differs from that of the Access Fund because it highlights the economic side as well as many logistics by stating factual claims that may have been overlooked.
The National Parks Conservation Association is another organization that has spoken out against Zinke’s proposal. The President and CEO, Theresa Pierno, makes the purpose of their organization clear when she states that, “the mission of the National Parks Service is to preserve, unimpaired, the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations” and their dedication to protecting national parks includes the monuments currently under review (National Parks Conservation Association). In Pierno’s statement she claims that Zinke has forgotten that these national monuments belong to the American people, not just the government. She is fearful that, “they will be sacrificing our culture, our history and our outdoor heritage for potential short-term gains,” and “generations to come will judge them for this shortsightedness” in making such dramatic changes to national monuments that need our protection (National Parks Conservation Association). Morally, Pierno hits on some interesting points by including the idea that we would be losing some of our history and our culture that has been built up over many decades. This is especially true regarding the rights of Native Americans and their land. The National Parks Conservation Association’s argument seems to be similar to the Access Funds while also hitting on the cultural and historical aspects.
Overall one of the strongest moral arguments made against Zinke’s proposed recommendations is the idea that one hundred and twenty days was entirely too short of a time period for Zinke to compose a well-constructed and thorough report on the many national monuments that are under review. There is an entire community of Americans that rely on the access of public lands remaining protected, and this is a decision that should be taken seriously. It is unfair to neglect to take the necessary time to complete a review that could have potentially devastating results. It takes years for national monuments to be established and it should take more than one hundred and twenty days to shrink the boundaries of more than ten parks in order to ensure a proper decision is being made. Ethically this should not be permitted, and the arguments made by the Access Fund, Patagonia, and The National Parks Conservation Association all support this claim.
This argument made against the policy proposal indicating that the rights of human access to public lands are being carelessly ignored is based on the ethics of principles considering it deals with the intentions of the actions rather than their consequences. Over and over again the research points to the potential violation of American’s rights and the denial of protection of public lands indicating that this is an ethics of principles argument. Americans are concerned that the intentions behind Zinke were not morally correct when he presented his recommendations to Trump, only taking into consideration the temporary economic gains he could achieve rather than preserving public access to many national monuments.