National monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, were drastically reduced in size last Monday, December 4th, 2017. Both are located in Utah, and are more recently established. Bears Ears was named a national monument by President Barack Obama in 2016, and Grand Staircase Escalante was named one by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
According to the New York Times, the Trump administration diminished Bears Ears land by a whopping 85%, and reduced Grand Staircase Escalante by around 50%. Overall, their administration removed close to 2 million acres of national monument land. These alterations of national monuments completely disregard a set of protections that former democratic leaders had founded.
It has been rumored that this land housing many different animal and plant species, as well as Native American history, will be turned over to mining and development companies. Utah has been known to be rich in unique natural resources, and the Trump administration looks to sell this land to companies that plan to mine these as well as develop on these now public lands.
Earth and Space Science instructor, Angela Bergman, expressed her displeasement regarding what the Trump administration has done to alter these specific national monuments.
“I think it’s a horrible idea. You look at any metropolitan area, and we have what is called urban sprawl; where we are constantly building outwards because we don’t like the way our town looks,”Bergman said. “If we don’t protect these green spaces, we’re going to lose them. And that’s problematic in any number of ethical ways.”
Honors biology instructor, Tobin Ehlers, also shared his less than satisfactory thoughts pertaining to the subject.
“[President Donald Trump] shouldn’t be [shrinking the size of national monuments]. There’s a reason we have national parks and why they’re protected; so that anyone can go and see what it’s like to not have buildings and houses, and enjoy nature,” Ehlers said. “I believe both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase have sacred Native American grounds on them; there’s a lot of historical parts to [national monuments], that we can’t replace.”
Bergman firmly believes that the proposed mining and development set to happen on these national parks will destroy the land.
“Mining totally changes a landscape. The kind of mining we’re talking about here completely decimates a landscape. It will take hundreds of years for that land to recover after people are done with it,” Bergman said.
Much like Bergman, Ehlers feels as though drilling into our natural landscape will very much harm it.
“As soon as you open that land up to minerals and energy exploration, you’re destroying and ruining habitats,” Ehlers said.
Since the release of the Trump administration taking land formerly belonging to our national parks and monuments, there have been several protests involving environmental activists groups. A more popular outdoors company, Patagonia, is planning on taking the Trump administration to court for taking protected land and deciding to alter as well as harm it.
If the Trump administration decides to reduce the land of additional national monuments, it would appear to be likely that the amount of protests and petitions will only increase.