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U.S. Veterans Call On Trump To Defend National Monuments


After putting their lives on the line to protect the United States and the values it stands for, more than 1,000 American military veterans  — including retired high-ranking officers — signed a letter to the commander-in-chief urging him to “protect the public lands and traditions for which we fought, specifically by maintaining the boundaries and protections of the national monuments that were reviewed by Secretary Zinke.”

The move by former soldiers, sailors, Marines, Guardsmen and airmen comes after President Trump's proclamation, in response to Secretary Zinke's recommendation, last year to strip 1 million acres, collectively, from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah.

The veterans write that they “have dedicated our lives to the protection of this great nation. It is only right that we continue our service as advocates for and stewards of its public lands.”

They are concerned that protections might be reduced for other monuments named in an Interior Department report, including Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon and California, Gold Butte in Nevada, New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.

"These protected monuments are a natural legacy that belongs to all Americans,” said retired Admiral Michael Mathis. “National monuments preserve our heritage, our history, and the natural beauty of our great country. I served to protect core American values, and conservation is undoubtedly one of them.”

“Our national monuments and public lands have been a big part of my homecoming,” said Bishop Garrison, who graduated from West Point and served two deployments in Iraq. “I urge our commander-in-chief to consider how much these places mean to American servicemen and women and reverse this course of action.”

The former service members that signed the letter represent an important segment of the American public who support the country’s national monuments. During the national monument review, roughly 3 million comments were submitted; with 99 percent in support of keeping national monument protections in place.


They also fought for the rights of people to disagree with their position on the management of our monuments - a group I happen to belong.

Nice to see and let's hope their voices are heard as well as those in favor of removing the restrictions. 

I have the upmost respect for those who chose to serve our country. That said, one thousand veterans is a tiny fraction of those who served. It would also be interesting to know how these thousand veterans felt about our civil war statutes being removed. Only time will tell if giving the land back to the BLM will be worse than having it under the control of the NPS.

An excellent point, Mike. The period when the National Park Service was the sole manager of the national monuments (with still a few exceptions) was historically very brief (1933-1980). What, then, are we to make of Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama's "proclamations?" How sincere was either president that these monuments would ultimately be managed as parks? FDR was sincere when he gave Horace Albright the authority to manage the existing monuments--and promptly transferred them, along with the Civil War battlefields, etc., to the NPS. But later presidents? The jury is still out, with perhaps the exception of Jimmy Carter.

I first saw Bears Ears in 1966 while on leave from my service in the US Air Force, and I couldn't be more in agreement with the letter.  

Only time will tell if giving the land back to the BLM will be worse than having it under the control of the NPS.

These monuments were created on BLM land and remain managed by the BLM. The Park Service is not involved in any way with these.

The BLM has managed national monuments since 1996, when the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was designated. Read up on the National Landscape Conservation System, a program begun by then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and later codified by Congress.

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