Dean M. Chriss

A Sad Time for America

Metate Arch, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument
Metate Arch, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument

On Monday December 4, 2017 Donald Trump reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monuments by 80 percent and 45 percent respectively. This action will allow industrial exploitation to destroy more than 2 million acres of federally owned land; land that belongs to every American citizen. It also sets a precedent that our national parks and monuments can be raided whenever a politician smells a dollar buried in one.

For perspective the area to be exploited is 2.6 times the size of Rhode Island, or larger than Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Glacier, Mount Rainier, and Rocky Mountain National Parks combined. How would we judge a past decision to hand all of those national parks over to the mining industry? That is exactly how the future will judge this insane decision. These are the last and only lands of their kind. Squandering them like this is shameful.

These places are the most remote, rugged, and pristine lands remaining in the continental United States. They are a beautiful and irreplaceable wilderness of canyons and convoluted sandstone formations that contain dinosaur fossils, petrified trees, and thousands of ancient Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites, many of which will lose protection. What will be left is a fragmented patchwork of a few small "protected" sites in the midst of what will eventually become an industrial wasteland. Anyone who has been there knows the only real protection for anything in these monuments is remoteness. Even now modern bullets shot by those who claim to be better "stewards" of this place have pock marked nearly all of the more accessible ancient rock art panels. Take a look at this video to see how parts of the former National Monuments will be made more cow friendly.

The Trump proclamations are an outright and illegal assault on America's natural heritage and among the most destructive acts in America's history. If they stand this vast and unbroken landscape will be changed forever, from national monuments of unequalled grandeur to monuments of greed, short-sighted stupidity, and arrogance.


In similar news, nine members of the National Park System Advisory Board quit Tuesday January 16, citing concern over the Trump administration's priorities regarding the national parks. It is required by law that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke meet with the advisory board twice each year, but Zinke has declined meeting for a full year. As their resignation latter states "I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside". Like Trump, Zinke has no interest in America's national parks beyond industrial exploitation. America established and protected the first national parks in the world and now it may be the first country in the world to sacrifice its own national parks to greed.