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The Conservation Alliance Funds Legal Challenges to Trump Assault on National Monuments

The Conservation Alliance Staff, left to right: Kirsten Blackburn; Josie Norris; John Sterling and Serena Gordon.

The Conservation Alliance made a $75,000 grant to Earthjustice today, supporting the organization’s legal challenges to President Trump’s unprecedented changes to national monument boundaries. The grant is the largest contribution The Conservation Alliance has ever made to one organization, and will support litigation aimed at halting changes to national monuments throughout the Western US.

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order that attempts to shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. His order reduces Bears Ears by 85 percent, and cuts Grand Staircase-Escalante in half. Within hours, Earthjustice filed suit to defend Grand Staircase-Escalante, and plans to file in support of Bears Ears later in the week. Earthjustice is representing eight organizations charging that the president violated the 1906 Antiquities Act by stripping monument protections from these national treasures.

“President Trump is attempting what could be the largest rollback of public lands protections in American history by axing the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments,” said Heidi McIntosh, Earthjustice’s managing attorney in the Rocky Mountains region. “But his proclamations are illegal. And they will be met by a roar of disapproval from the American people who love these lands and who stand by the Native American tribes for whom these lands are sacred.”

The Conservation Alliance invested heavily in the organizations that led the effort to secure national monument designation for Bears Ears and nine other monuments during the Obama Administration. Each of these landscapes has significant outdoor recreation, cultural, wildlife, and scientific value. President Trump ordered a review of national monuments earlier this year, during which three million Americans submitted comments. More than 99 percent of those comments urged President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to leave all monuments under review unchanged.

“The President has chosen to ignore millions of Americans to put at risk two places he has never seen,” said John Sterling, Executive Director of The Conservation Alliance. “We are proud to protect our investment in these landscapes by supporting Earthjustice’s efforts to challenge this assault on our public lands.”

In addition to defending Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, Earthjustice is prepared to go to court to defend national monuments in New Mexico and California. The law firm is already engaged in litigation to protect Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon.

“In this reckless assault on our shared natural heritage, the President is proposing to remove protections for wildly popular National Monuments that drive local economies and hold great concentrations of Native American antiquities, stunning recreation opportunities, and areas with unique scientific value,” said Sterling. “Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are exactly the kind of landscapes the Antiquities Act was intended to preserve.”

This grant comes from The Conservation Alliance’s new Public Lands Defense Fund, a special fund designed to make emergency grants to organizations working to defend the integrity of our public lands system. The Conservation Alliance established the Public Lands Defense Fund in January, 2017 with contributions from Patagonia, The North Face, Arc’teryx, GU Energy Labs, KEEN Footwear, Ruff Wear and Ibex Outdoor Clothing. Together, these companies have contributed more than $270,000 this year to support efforts to defend public lands. The Conservation Alliance welcomes additional contribution to grow this fund.

The Conservation Alliance Responds to President Trump’s Unprecedented Attack on National Monuments

Citadel_Ruin_BLM_photo_by_Bob_Wick

Today, President Trump launched an unprecedented attack on America’s public lands. In a move that favors short-term profits for extractive industries over Native American cultural heritage and a sustainable outdoor recreation economy, Trump signed an executive order that attempts to shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. His order reduces Bears Ears by 85 percent, and cuts Grand Staircase-Escalante in half. Like many of President Trump’s executive orders, this one is likely illegal, and will immediately be challenged in court by Native Americans, conservation organizations, and outdoor recreation interests. The Conservation Alliance opposes any attempt to reduce the boundaries of existing national monuments by executive action, and is prepared to fund legal challenges to this assault on or national and natural heritage.

When President Trump ordered a review of national monuments earlier this year, we supported efforts to show how strongly local citizens and businesses support both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. During the national monument review, three million Americans submitted comments, more than 99 percent of which urged President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to leave all monuments under review unchanged.

At the behest of Utah’s political leadership, the President has chosen to ignore millions of Americans to put at risk two places he has never seen. It is no coincidence that Trump ordered the dismantling of two of Utah’s most iconic national monuments just days after Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, ushered the tax cut bill through the Senate. In this reckless assault on our shared natural heritage, the President is proposing to remove protections for wildly popular national monuments that drive local economies and hold great concentrations of Native American antiquities, stunning recreation opportunities, and areas with unique scientific value. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are exactly the kind of landscapes the Antiquities Act was intended to preserve.

President Trump’s action is part of a broader attack on our public lands by Congress and the White House; an attack that we expect to play out over the next year. The Conservation Alliance will work closely with our member companies and our partners in the conservation community to respond to this and any subsequent attempt to undermine our special wild places. We will use our Public Lands Defense Fund to fund grassroots conservation groups in their efforts to defend our public lands. And we will continue to organize our member companies and their employees and customers to speak out forcefully in support of our public lands.

Since President Trump and Secretary Zinke launched their national monument review, our member companies and their employees have joined an unprecedented movement in support of public lands. That movement is only growing, and we will continue to stand strong as we defend our national monuments now, and make plans to secure new protections for public lands in the future.

If you want to join the effort to support our national monuments, here are three actions you can take today:

  1. Join the effort to establish a Bears Ears Visitors and Education Center in Bluff, Utah. Friends of Cedar Mesa, a longtime Conservation Alliance grantee and local Bears Ears conservation nonprofit, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to build a center to educate and inspire the ever increasing visitation to the Bears Ears region.
  2. Continue to stand up for our national monuments. Visit http://monumentsforall.org/action/ for suggested social media messages.
  3. Remain engaged, motivated, and passionate. We will continue to share updates and opportunities for engagement through our channels. Please sign up for our e-newsletter to be informed of these opportunities.

Trump to Shrink Utah Monuments on Monday

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Photo: Josh Ewing

President Trump will fly to Salt Lake City Utah on Monday, December 4th to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.

Documents leaked from the White House and obtained by a variety of sources such as The Washington Post, Outside Online, and the Salt Lake Tribune, suggest that President Trump will issue an order, which, if eventually upheld in court, would dramatically reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah.  If these obtained documents are true, Trump will dismantle Bears Ears National Monument into two smaller monuments encompassing just 201,000 of the monument’s original 1.35 million acres. Grand  Staircase-Escalante National Monument will also be broken into three smaller monuments with a combined acreage of less than one million acres, roughly half of its original size.

The Conservation Alliance and our member companies have worked vigorously to demonstrate support for National Monuments, and to oppose any changes to their boundaries. Nearly three million Americans commented during the review period, 99 percent of whom urged Trump to leave these special protected areas alone.

Native Americans, conservation and recreation groups, and outdoor businesses are preparing to file lawsuits against the Trump Administration immediately following an announcement on Monday, and The Conservation Alliance will make grants from our Public Lands Defense Fund to support this litigation. In the meantime, there are still ways to make our voices heard. Below are two ways to take action immediately.

  1. Attend Saturday’s Rally in Salt Lake City. Join Utahans on the south steps of the Utah State Capitol to resist Trump’s efforts to dismantle our national monuments. RSVP here.
  2. Make your voice heard on social media. Visit monumentsforall.org/action to quickly do so.

Please stay tuned. We will compile a concise list of ways to take action promptly following any Trump announcement on Monday. 

 

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