Trump Administration Threatens Protections for California’s Cherished National Monuments

Xavier Becerra
Jun 8, 2017 · 3 min read

On this day in 1906, Republican President Teddy Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law, giving presidents the authority to designate — but not to terminate — national monuments. Over the last 111 years, millions of Americans and tourists from around the world have witnessed the breathtaking beauty of California’s pristine lands.

But President Donald Trump is threatening to reverse all of this progress. He recently signed an executive order directing the U.S. Department of the Interior to “review” national monuments, suggesting he may want to change their status and open up our treasured public lands to leasing for oil and gas exploration, among other activities that would scar the landscape and interfere with the public’s access.

Make no mistake about it — President Trump simply has no legal authority to question monument designations under the Antiquities Act. The power to revoke or modify existing national monument designations rests exclusively with the Congress.

As the Attorney General of California, I am determined to take any and all action necessary to protect the American heritage we respect and cherish in our monument lands. Because right now, six of California’s national monuments could be on the chopping block.

The Mojave Trails National Monument is as, President Barack Obama put it, “a stunning mosaic of rugged mountain ranges, ancient lava flows, and spectacular sand dunes.”

Known as the “crown” on the Valley of Angels, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is made up of rugged peaks and canyons of chaparral, and is within a 90-minute drive for over 15 million people.

The Giant Sequoia National Monument is home to approximately two-thirds of all the giant sequoia trees still standing in the world.

The topography of Sand to Snow National Monument is unlike anything else in California, stretching from the floor of the Sonoran Desert and ascending rapidly to the towering 11,500-foot peak of San Gorgonio Mountain.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument offers refuge to many animals and plants that are threatened, endangered, or rare. Its surroundings areas have been extensively developed, making this monument all the more important for our long-term conservation efforts.

Located at the convergence of two tectonic plates, Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is widely recognized for its history of “dramatic geology” and is home to the American bald eagle and the California Chinook salmon.

Xavier Becerra

Written by

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra