Here we go again. Certain nefarious politicians are determined to grab our public lands back from us in order to create profits for their cronies or their state. And now they have their sights set on our National Monuments.
This time it’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who last week visited the Katahdin Woods and Waters NM in Maine. You may not recall, but at the age of 29 Henry David Thoreau attempted to climb to the top of Mount Katahdin, and was so inspired that his words became the impetus last year for designating 87,563 acres of the Katahdin Woods and Waters as a National Monument.
But Zinke’s visit was not to proclaim uplifting inspiration from this beautiful scenic landscape, nor to extol the value of our national monuments, but rather as a “part of a systematic review of more than two dozen national monuments being considered for delisting,” Richard Powers wrote in Keep America Wild on June 16th in the New York Times Opinion Pages. “He’s acting under the executive order of President Trump, who has called the creation of the monuments “abuses.” The president has set his developer’s eye on public property, promising to “free it up” and threatening that “tremendously positive things are going to happen on that incredible land.”
Tell me. What do you think he means by “positive things are going to happen on that incredible land.” What could be more incredible than preserving its natural state? Another Trump resort?
And though at the end of his visit, Secretary Zinke stated that he is comfortable with the site remaining in “public hands” it more than likely was because the site’s original owners (that donated it to the country) provided “$40 million earmarked for the land’s preservation and care in perpetuity.”
But do not think the fight to preserve our national monuments is over. He’ll be looking at others that are not so well protected. Believe it or not, he is also looking at “Other targets for possible delisting including Basin and Range in Nevada, Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona, Craters of the Moon in Idaho, and Giant Sequoia in California.”
“No president has ever rescinded a national monument created by his predecessor,” Powers continues, “and a recent article in the Virginia Law Review contends that only Congress, not the president, has the legal authority to do so. But here we are, in a whole new country, where precedent, civil custom and the shared understanding of law is being challenged every week.” And don’t feel common sense will prevail.
We should all remember Thoreau’s words in Walden, “man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” We, the public, must make sure that those seeking to overturn our National Monuments purely for monetary gain must be stopped by our collective voices in opposition. Once these incredibly valuable monuments are gone – into private hands – they are gone. Period. Please let your congressman know where you stand. Make your voice – and opinion – heard. You can contact your senator or representative on the USA.gov website.