Donald Trump is all about states’ rights – that is until it comes to California and its national monuments.
On Wednesday, the president signed a potentially disastrous executive order, directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the status of 24 federally protected swathes of land and water. Although we won’t know much more until this summer, the order could lead to the reduction or even elimination of monuments designated by three previous presidents.
On the potential chopping block is Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, a spectacular stretch of wilderness about 100 miles north of Sacramento. Monuments on Trump’s list also include Giant Sequoia, Sand to Snow, Carrizo Plain, World War II Valor in the Pacific and Mojave Trails.
These are treasures that most Californians want to protect, not open up to Trump’s corporate pals for drilling, mining, logging or commercial development, as has already happened in the Mojave.
We can’t speak for the residents of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico or Nevada, where other national monuments are under review. But in the Golden State, we’re advocates for preservation and the environment.
Zinke must understand that. He graduated from the University of San Diego and was stationed nearby as a Navy SEAL. The former Montana congressman also visited California last month, making stops at Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks.
Yet Zinke echoes Trump’s tough talk about how the designation of monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act costs rural communities jobs and reduces access to public lands. But Californians know monuments are good for the economy, with visitors generating tens of millions of dollars each year.
That’s the right way to profit off national monuments – not Trump’s way.