The American people did not vote for Donald Trump because they wanted national forests logged, bounties placed on wolf packs, national monuments reduced in size or a resumption of the universally outlawed Ivory Trade.
These odious policies are the direct result of the appointment of a Swamp Creature positioned by the crony class to further their own narrow financial interests and agenda, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Thankfully the President reversed the plans on elephant hunting calling it a “horror show,” which is what it is, but last week President Trump traveled to Utah to announce the taking away of public lands and the opening up these lands for commercial developers to pillage and plunder to their hearts content. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante were the first on the chopping block but Mr. Zinke has more in mind.
At least eight more of our treasured National Monuments, public lands, set aside for their beauty and the public’s enjoyment and use, are on the chopping block. The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the President the authority to set aside public lands as National Monuments. After reviewing these sites, Zinke has recommended President Trump reclassify and reduce the size of these national treasures.
No president has ever reduced the size of the monuments, but the Department of the Interior is filled with Swamp Creatures like Zinke and his deputy David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and big agribusiness, those most interested in use of the national monuments.
This reclassification means the acreage of the National Monuments will be reduced, and the lands–some of the most spectacular scenic areas in in the country, can be used for commercial development.
Unlike National Parks, National Monuments allow local residentsand tourists alike to take advantage of the land to conduct and participate in recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, cattle-grazing, and hiking. Thus, local businesses, sportsmen and community groups, support keeping the National Monuments intact as they provide the opportunity to create a dependable income for local economies, including the addition of jobs for the local workforce.
There is also widespread, and bipartisan, public support for our National Monuments. A new McLaughlin & Associates poll of 1,000 likely voters found that 90 percent support the creation of more monuments or keeping the current ones protected. Keeping these lands intact also has the support of local Native American tribes and chambers of commerce.
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico is the prime example of how local areas surrounding these National Monuments can benefit from taking advantage of tourist opportunities. In 2016, tourism hit an all-time high following the Monument’s mention in Lonely Planet‘s “Top 10 Places to Visit,” travel guide, resulting in a 50% increase in visitors throughout the past year. The Monument also features petroglyph-line canyons, with thousands of Native American archeological sites, many historical landmarks and training sites; including sites for World War II bombing pilots and crews, and the Apollo Space Program.
If the personal income of those who live near Organ Mountains can increase by 42 percent, community involvement in supporting National Monuments can lead to flourishing economic prosperity throughout the country. What could we be sacrificing by minimizing the Monuments?
Secretary Zinke has recommended reclassifying Organ Mountains Desert Peaks for oil drilling and mining.
Gold Butte National Monument features significant cultural, historic, and natural treasures; thousands of Native American artifacts, historic mining and pioneering artifacts, rare and threatened wildlife, and dramatic geologic features. Broad and deep local support is a principle benefactor for its designation, which, in turn, benefits the community greatly.
Gold Butte National Monument encourages tourism and increases expenditures at local businesses. An economic study conducted by Applied Analysis found that if only 10 percent of new visitors decided to spend one night in Mesquite, Nevada, the total economic impact for the community would be $2.7 million per year. Think about what that could mean if visitors were to spend a week in the Monument town.
Secretary Zinke proposes Gold Butte National Monument can be used for “traditional uses,” including mining and drilling.
Aside from their captivating scenery and preservation of cultural and historical sites, they create jobs and improve local standards of living. Their archaeological sites are a link to our prehistoric past and Native American sites are a vital link to cultural history.
Secretary Zinke’s misguided policies are toxic for local communities and even worse for American economic prosperity. President Trump knows business, but he understands the need to protect the lands and the local economy. He is wise to question the plans of the Swamp Creature.
BY RON MAXWELL
Ron Maxwell is the award-winning writer and director of the 1993 film, Gettysburg, and is hailed as cinema’s leading interpreter of the complex, lethal, heroic period in American history surrounding The Civil War. He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Concordia College.