How Coloradans are Standing Up for our National Parks and Monuments

With his recent executive order, President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are threatening to remove protections for millions of acres of our public lands. By conducting a “review” of 27 of our country’s national monuments, including Colorado’s magnificent Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, the Trump administration is threatening the very fabric that makes our country so unique.

But in many ways, this review has backfired, and people across the country are taking this opportunity to raise their collective voices for public lands. Indeed, the review has already spurred hundreds of thousands of people to take action. (If you haven’t done it yet, click here to add your name to support Colorado’s monument under review, Canyons of the Ancients.)

An attack on one monument is an attack on all. Already the Trump administration has shown that it is willing to shrink and remove protections for Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. As our own Scott Braden put it:

“Coloradans should rid themselves of any harbored hopes that the President Trump or his loyal subordinates like Secretary Zinke will somehow be moderate on public lands issues. Their assault on public lands is real, and none of Colorado’s public lands are safe from it. Indeed, in Colorado, Trump has already attacked our Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, initiated a “review” of the collaborative Greater sage grouse plan, and attempted to fast track a coal mine expansion into a roadless area.

But we’re not giving up the fight. Here are some of the incredible things Coloradans have done to prove to the president and his administration that we care deeply about our national monuments and public lands:

  • In the final hours of the legislative session, the Colorado state House unanimously voted to pass a resolution in support of the Antiquities Act and all of Colorado’s national monuments. The resolution said that our national monuments “reflect the rich cultural heritage of tribal communities, minority communities, and communities of color, [and] are some of the most important public lands of the United States.” It’s uncommon for anything to pass unanimously in a divided legislature, so this was a testament to the love for public lands that Coloradans across the state share.
Governor Hickenlooper speaks to a crowd in Grand Junction on Colorado Public Lands Day.
  • Our elected officials have spoken up for Colorado’s monuments, too. Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Ed Perlmutter spoke at Colorado Public Lands Day events. Sen. Bennet signed a letter with Governor Hickenlooper emphasizing the collaborative process Colorado has followed for all of our national monuments. Republicans Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton submitter a letter concluding “that no changes to the designation are necessary” for Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
  • Across the state, local governments are speaking out for our national monuments and public lands. Twenty-nine county commissioners from across the state signed a letter to the Secretary of Interior, stating, “These monuments are our heritage, our future and our template for preservation.” The Cortez City Council signed a strong letter to the Secretary of Interior saying, “Canyons of the Ancients became a National Monument because it is a special place and merits the protections that Monument Status provides.” The Routt County Commissioners signed a resolution saying they “support the value of public lands to the county’s economy, recreation, heritage, and quality of life.” And, to honor and recognize the value of our public lands, both the Grand Junction and Fruita City Councils passed proclamations for Colorado Public Lands Day.
Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith addresses the crowd at Red Rocks.
  • Colorado is the first state in the nation to have a holiday just to celebrate our public lands. We celebrated the first-ever Colorado Public Lands Day this year on May 20th, and it was a huge success. There were 137 events held across the state, from trail cleanups to happy hours. We saw more than 2,000 people participated. The band Elephant Revival, the “official sound” of the holiday, brought Senator Michael Bennet and our executive director onstage during their concert at Red Rocks for a shoutout to our public lands. Colorado is the first state in the nation to have a holiday just to celebrate our public lands.
  • Coloradans and visitors to our state have shown support through their dollars and actions. More than 96% of Coloradans say they have visited public lands in the past year. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the outdoor recreation economy generates $13.2 billion annually in consumer spending and funds 125,000 jobs — just in Colorado! That’s more than oil, natural gas, and coal jobs combined. Our booming outdoor economy is further proof that Coloradans value these places. Plus, our Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance now has more than 150 business members, who support our public lands and are willing to act to defend them.
Rafting companies and participants line up to float the rapids in Browns Canyon National Monument.

The question remains, will it be enough? Will it stop the Trump administration from downsizing our national monuments? The comment period remains open until July 10th, and we’re counting on you to spread this story, submit your comment, and make sure others do too.

While Colorado’s leaders have made their opinions clear on our national monuments, especially Canyons of the Ancients, we need Coloradans to step up to the plate too.

Don’t forget to add your name! Sign the petition here.

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