Conservatives Rally to Defend National Monuments

The Trump administration’s unprecedented rollback of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah—along with signals of more monument slashing to come—has generated strong pushback from conservatives. In addition to CRS, Citizens of the Republic (founded by Ronald Reagan), and the Green Tea Coalition have rallied to the defense of America’s national monuments–all coordinating their efforts as part of the American Monuments Alliance. In addition, numerous conservative legal scholars have challenged the administration’s rollbacks as unlawful and unconstitutional. Even more telling, recent polling shows that the vast majority of conservatives oppose the administration’s national monument rollbacks.  For example, a national poll by McLaughlin & Associates late last year found that 85 percent of Republicans nationwide support keeping existing national monument designations in place or increasing their number. Safeguarding important parts of America’s natural and cultural heritage has always been conservative. As President Reagan once noted, “What is a conservative after all but one who conserves.” Prudence, tradition, and selfless concern for future generations are all hallmarks of genuine conservatism. Those on the political right who betray those values are not conservative. It, therefore, makes sense that a Republican, John F. Lacey (IA), wrote the 1906 law authorizing the designation of national monuments, that it was passed by a Republican Congress, and that is was signed into law by a Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt. That purpose of that law, the Antiquities Act, was to prevent the looting, vandalism, and other harmful exploitation plaguing important areas of cultural or natural significance. Devils Tower, Montezuma Castle, Petrified Forest, Muir Woods, and the Grand Canyon were among the first places protected...