America to Trump and Zinke: Don’t touch national monuments

New analysis finds near-unanimous support of Bears Ears and other national monuments as public comment period closes, including a 9‑to‑1 margin among Utahns

Bears Ears National Monument

With just hours remaining in President Trump’s 60-day public comment period reviewing 21 years of national monument designations, a new analysis of more than 650,000 comments posted to regulations.gov finds overwhelming support for keeping and protecting America’s national monuments.

The Center for Western Priorities analyzed a random sample (n=1000) of the 654,197 comments posted as of Monday morning. 98 percent of those comments expressed support for keeping or expanding national monument designations.* Just one percent requested President Trump attempt to shrink or erase monument boundaries.

As our executive director, Jennifer Rokala, told reporters this afternoon, “America has spoken loud and clear: protect and enhance national monuments, don’t eliminate them. It’s not too late for Interior Secretary Zinke to heed the word of an overwhelming majority of Americans by upholding Bears Ears National Monument and the dozens of other natural wonders under attack. Unfortunately, this administration, under Secretary Zinke’s leadership, has demonstrated its priority is carrying water for special interests and not working on behalf of all Americans.”

A full-text search reveals 55 percent (358,822) of comments posted specifically mention Bears Ears National Monument, with a similar near-unanimous ratio of support for keeping Bears Ears intact.

The Center for Western Priorities also identified approximately 4,800 comments from self-identified Utah residents. Of those Utahns, a random sample (n=823) reveals 88 percent support for keeping monument status for Bears Ears or Grand Staircase–Escalante national monuments.** These results are consistent with CWP’s previous analysis which found comments from Utah residents support national monuments by a nine‑to‑one margin.

Additionally, monument supporters announced today that conservation, sportsmen’s, and other groups have submitted more than 2.5 million comments and signatures in support of national monuments from Hawaii to Maine. Each bundle of comments, when processed and posted to regulations.gov, will display as a single submission with attachments.


* Methodology and notes: Regulations.gov currently shows more than 1.3 million submitted comments, of which 654,197 had been processed by Interior Department staff as of 7:00 am MDT Monday. CWP downloaded the full text of all available comments (code) and selected 1,000 at random, which were analyzed for support or opposition to monument designations. The analysis has a margin of error of ±3.1%.

** To find self-identified Utah residents, CWP searched the full text of all comments for variations on more than a dozen terms, including “Utah resident,” “San Juan County,” “Blanding,” “Monticello,” “Bluff,” and “Salt Lake City.” A random sample (n=1,000) of those 5,933 matching comments were then manually analyzed to confirm a statement of Utah residence, and those that did (n=823) were also analyzed for support or opposition to national monument designations. This portion of the analysis has a margin of error of ±2.8%, however, because regulations.gov does not require commenters to list their home state, there is no way to know or estimate the full number of Utah residents who submitted comments. The complete toolchain used to automate comment selection is available on github.