Editorial boards agree: Hands off our national monuments

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

In the days following President Trump’s executive order triggering a review of 21 years of national monument designations, newspaper editorial boards across the West and the nation weighed in with swift and severe condemnations of the president’s actions.

Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s national monuments have already justified themselves:

The president’s justification is built on factual sand. “Federal land grab”? Both monuments were already federal land before they were declared. “Preserving our land”? There is no argument to be made that monuments haven’t preserved land. “Free it up?” What does that even mean? Free to overgraze and drive wherever we want? We’ve been there, and no one wants that.

Los Angeles Times, Leave the National Monuments Alone:

Zinke and Trump both said the review would give the public a chance to weigh in. But it already has. The Bears Ears designation, for instance, came after more than seven years of broad public debate and after a rival land-use plan by Utah’s congressional delegation failed to gain traction.

The Denver Post, Donald Trump and Ryan Zinke should protect our national monuments:

These monuments, including the two most controversial in Utah, have in fact been carefully vetted and have support of many despite the vocal opposition of a few. We’re confident Zinke will find little merit in negating the protections put in place.

The Washington Post, Trump should not undo the protection of precious public land:

There is much good in the Antiquities Act track record, because presidents, in their broad view of the national interest, have generally used their powers judiciously. Moreover, Congress has not been absent from this process. Very often it has ratified presidential actions, and at times it has checked the president’s use of the act, an interaction that restrains presidential abuse. Mr. Trump should keep this broad national interest, and long view, in mind.

Albuquerque Journal, Trump monument review could be the real land grab:

But in the meantime, Zinke’s review of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument could gum up the works of a deal designed to provide access to the currently land-locked, 16,030-acre Sabinoso Wilderness, a dramatic piece of the high plains east of Las Vegas. Although the Sabinoso is public land, it is surrounded by private property owners who have declined to allow public access, leaving them and their friends what amounts to a private wilderness area that borders the Canadian River and features cliffs and 1,000-foot-deep canyons home to numerous wildlife species.

The Fresno Bee, Don’t mess with California’s national monuments:

These are treasures that most Californians want to protect, not open up to Trump’s corporate pals for drilling, mining, logging or commercial development, as has already happened in the Mojave.

The Durango Herald, National Monuments: Preserving our nation’s historic, cultural and natural heritage for over 100 years:

As he performs his review, Zinke should listen to voices in favor of the monuments as much as those in Trump’s base who oppose them because supporters, too, are constituents. Most importantly, the administration must consider resource protection. Trump is systematically dismantling clean air and clean water regulations, and now he is moving toward opening public lands to greater development. It is not hard to see who will benefit from Trump’s changes.

Reporter-Herald (Loveland, Colorado), Monuments fight is about the long view:

Interior leaders should look at data collected by the National Park Service on the economic value brought to communities that have national monuments near their borders. When a parcel is elevated to national monument status, it attracts visitors — and their wallets — in numbers that far outstrip comparable BLM or National Forest properties. What’s better, the investment compounds over time because there is no extraction or cleanup necessary.

The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California), Trump eyes a monumental land grab:

Let’s be clear: there is no land grab, no taking of private property in creating a national monument. Under the Antiquities Act, presidents can only designate national monuments on land already owned or controlled by the federal government.