Monuments: What happened this week?

This week, the Trump administration announced it would be cutting two monuments in Utah, one by 85 percent and one by more than 50 percent, jeopardizing the more than century old Antiquities Act, a conservation tool that has been

used to protect public lands revered by hunters and anglers, such as Arkansas River in Colorado and Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico.

The announcement, although anticipated, rocked the sporting world, prompting response from recreationalists of all stripes, including Trout Unlimited’s CEO, Chris Wood, who addressed members live on social media.

“The decision today should be deeply alarming to sportsmen and women. Actions that erode protections for any national monument jeopardize others across the nation. Will that be next?” Wood said.

The next day, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke released the recommendations for all 27 monuments under review as part of an executive order issued earlier in the year. While the report was slim on specific details, it recommended boundary modifications for additional national monuments, amending proclamations to prioritize certain uses, and changes to the Antiquities Act, the law that authorizes the creation of national monuments.

Unfortunately, the future for national monuments and the Antiquities Act remains uncertain. While there is a right way and a wrong way to designate a national monument (read more about the right ways here), Trout Unlimited maintains that undermining the Antiquities Act—signed into law by one of our greatest conservationists, Theodore Roosevelt—crosses a line for sportsmen and women. This law has been used equally by Republicans and Democrats alike, often when other stakeholder driven efforts to conserve important habitat and sporting opportunities have stalled in Congress.

So what can you do?

First, educate yourself. There’s a lot of misconceptions and a lot of rhetoric being thrown out there – claims like monuments lock out the public or shut out hunters and anglers – claims based on politics and not reality.

Second, let your decision makers know your position.

Thousands of TU members and thirty TU State Councils were among the 2.8 million Americans who commented on the review process this summer – ninety-nine percent speaking out in support of national monuments.

Click below to contact the Department of Interior and your Congressional delegation. But don’t stop there. Local voices matter in this issue. Be sure to reach out to your county commission or state legislators.

It’s going to take all of us to make sure we leave these lands better than we found them.

By Shauna Stephenson. Shauna Stephenson has been a writer, photographer, communicator and conservationist for nearly two decades, the past decade being spent at Trout Unlimited, working on projects…