Outdoor Alliance Responds to Today’s Attacks on America’s Public Lands
Outdoor recreation groups denounce unprecedented attack on America’s public lands
(Washington, DC) December 4, 2017 – Today, President Trump attacked public lands by announcing a drastic, unprecedented, and possibly illegal removal of protections for public lands in Utah. The attacks on two protected landscapes, Bears Ears National Monument and Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument, leave these areas exposed to greater risk of resource extraction, looting, and irresponsible use. President Trump’s actions are an attack on the outdoor recreation community, which worked closely with the past administration to protect climbing and other recreation resources in eastern Utah.
Bears Ears National Monument was designated at the end of the Obama administration to protect more than a million acres of public land based on the area’s importance as a Native American cultural site. The area also includes iconic destinations for human-powered outdoor recreation that benefit from the stronger protections that come with a National Monument designation. The landscape was designated after years of work from tribes, Utah locals, outdoor businesses, and recreation and conservation groups including Outdoor Alliance and our partners at Access Fund and the American Alpine Club; the designation came only after Congress failed to pass a number of measures to protect the region.
Grand-Staircase Escalante was established in 1996 by President Clinton to protect almost 2 million acres of land in southern Utah from the threat of coal mining and resource extraction. The region was one of the last areas in the continental U.S. to be mapped, and its vast and rugged terrain has incredible outdoor recreation, including hiking, whitewater paddling, climbing, and mountain biking.
President Trump’s actions are the largest reduction in history of what we had once considered permanent protections. The president’s legal authority to take the actions he announced today is extremely questionable, and a number of groups, including Native American tribes, conservation groups, and recreation groups, are evaluating or are expected to take legal action. Outdoor Alliance will continue to support the efforts of our partners mounting legal challenges to these rollbacks.
Leaders in the outdoor recreation community responded to the unprecedented attack on public lands. Adam Cramer, Executive Director of Outdoor Alliance, said, “The great thing about national monuments is that they let presidents tell a story about a place, and help us better understand who we are as a country. Instead of using his vision to add another chapter to the American story, today President Trump used his power to dismember and destroy Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monuments. Rather than going for bigger and better, he went for petty and small. Thankfully, this story probably isn’t over just yet.”
"President Trump does not have the legal authority to revoke or modify a national monument. Access Fund is preparing to fight for Bears Ears national monument and all our public lands," said Brady Robinson, Executive Director of the Access Fund.
“Our community spoke up overwhelmingly in defense of the experiences our national monuments provide. We are dismayed to hear this announcement that goes against 98% of public comments,” said Tom Vogl, CEO of Washington’s The Mountaineers.
Mark Menlove, the Executive Director of Winter Wildlands Alliance, said, "The President's actions today—tearing down protections for the cultural, scientific, and recreational resources within Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments—lay bare the low regard he and Secretary Zinke have for our national heritage. This is a direct attack on America's proud conservation legacy. For more than a century we have been global leaders in protecting public lands and scenic landscapes for the benefit of all. We cannot allow this Administration to sacrifice that heritage for the short-term profit of a few energy companies. We must stand up and protect these places before they are lost forever."
"The American Alpine Club values public land and supports the preservation of our recreation resources,” said Phil Powers, CEO of the American Alpine Club. “Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument include precious climbing destinations. Any decision to reduce them ignores the voices of millions who spoke up in favor of keeping these national treasures intact. We cannot support this clear assault on the Antiquities Act."
IMBA Executive Director Dave Wiens said, "National Monuments have become a great tool to preserve places we love to ride. Unlike some land protection measures, National Monuments are mountain bike-friendly and strike a balance between preservation and recreation to allow the American public to directly experience the uniqueness of these areas. Mountain bikers submitted over 5,000 letters to Secretary Zinke and President Trump saying loud and clear that our National Monuments need to be protected. These actions are an attack on our protected public lands.”
Outdoor Alliance is a nonprofit coalition of organizations that include American Whitewater, American Canoe Association, Access Fund, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Winter Wildlands Alliance, The Mountaineers, American Alpine Club, and the Mazamas. Outdoor Alliance unites backcountry skiers, hikers, paddlers, mountain bikers, boaters, and climbers who share a commitment to protecting public lands. For more information, visit outdooralliance.org.
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