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Protecting Parks

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

The results are in for the public comment period required by law regarding how Americans feel about eliminating or greatly reducing the size the of national monuments by Presidential Executive Order. When a president creates a national monument, it protects the area the same as a national park until Congress decides to make it a national park, eliminate or change it in some manner. The Antiquates Act of 1906 allows a President to create a monument to provide protection until Congress acts on the protected area. It takes years or decades to be debated and acted on by Congress.

President Trump instructed the Secretary of Interior to review national monuments created since 1996 because he plans to eliminate or greatly reduce the size of monuments by Executive Order. Park advocate groups like the National Parks Association, Wilderness Society, and many others claim it is beyond the legal ability of a President to alter the monuments created by previous presidents. Such changes are legally restricted to Congress. Before becoming President, Trump campaigned for changing parks from protected areas to being open to mining for natural resource consumption, turned over to private business management or even eliminated. The monument review is a test to see if he can eliminate them and possibly continue with elimination of the national parks by Executive Order.

The National Park Service was created in the Organic Act of 1916. The agency’s mission as managers of national parks and monuments was clearly stated.

“….to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance released the following statement to the media: “Secretary Zinke’s illegal recommendations to the President are the latest salvo in this administration’s attacks on America’s public lands. It’s outrageous that after 99 percent of the more than 2.8 million comments received by the Secretary supported keeping our monuments protected, Secretary Zinke is still recommending the President illegally attack our national treasures. President Trump should throw this report away.”

Other organizations have released similar statements to the media to let American citizens know that national parks are being attacked. An analysis of the public comments shows 0.8 percent of people commenting support the Presidents Executive Order and 99.2 oppose the EO. Those commenting from Michigan were 100 percent opposed to the Executive Order.

The report can be found at PublicSupportForPublicLands_FINAL_20170822.pdf. The following in italics are from the report conclusions. The public overwhelmingly opposes rescinding or reducing the protection afforded 27 national monuments and 5 marine national monuments established since 1996. This opposition cuts across geography, issue areas (environment, Native American rights and culture, recreation, economy, etc.), and it is not specific to any national monument.

Taken together this study shows that the people can and have been heard, and that they have spoken clearly and forcefully for the continued protection of America’s public lands and the natural, scenic, sacred, culturally and historically significant places they contain.

Despite public sentiment of 99.2 percent opposed, the interior secretary has recommended greatly reducing the size the monuments. That will allow mining development in areas that are currently protected for present and future generations. The parks protect nature niches and are our insurance policy that allows us to visit special treasures and preserves them for coming generations. Park protection is an important means for preserving biodiversity.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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