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 under the Antiquities Act. The law also originally protected the Tetons, Zion Canyon, Acadia and many other areas that are among America’s most popular national parks.
President Trump’s executive order dramatically reducing the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante was a brazen, special-interest-driven, move to exploit these protected lands. Internal administration documents uncovered by the New York Times reveal that the decision to rollback these monuments was primarily motivated by interest in oil, gas and coal development.
It is the opposite of “draining the swamp.” It is also the opposite of a conservative conservation ethic that has served our nation well for more than a century. President Reagan said it well when he rhetorically asked, “What is a conservative after all but one who conserves.”
Below are links to key op-eds and other media to help rally fellow conservatives to this important defense of our natural heritage–and the great American outdoors that is such an integral part of our lives.
The Economic Folly of Rolling Back Grand Staircase-Escalante (Philip Carlson / Deseret News UT)
CRS President David Jenkins Interview at CPAC (The Schilling Show, WINA 1070 AM / 98.9 FM Charlottesville, VA)
National monuments heal and inspire (John Dalla USAF Ret. / Las Vegas Sun)
Nothing conservative about Rob Bishop’s public lands agenda (David Jenkins / Washington Examiner)
Trump parrots Obama’s enthusiasm for one-branch government (Bruce Fein / Washington Times)
Why conservatives should oppose shrinking national monuments (Craig Shirley / Washington Post)