President Trump's ignorant claim that our public lands are "land grabs" falls apart when examined more closely. Instead, his action re: Bears Ears/Grand Staircase-Escalante NM seizes our own public lands FROM us and sets a dangerous precedent, threatening protection of the environment, US history and culture. It means no monument is safe from private developers who see our public lands as private profit makers.
Currently our public lands belong to all of us, accessible to all. However, energy developers are excited about the recently withdrawn portions of Bears Ears/GSENM, seeing them as profitable for their private companies, and threatening the land with toxic tailings, water table contamination, and air pollution. We all hold shared title to these precious public lands. These spaces are necessary as buffers against urban sprawl, ecosystems for our wildlife, and protection for clean air/water.
If Trump can do this, then Fort McHenry National Monument isn’t safe. The battle fought there in 1812 inspired our national anthem. The African Burial Ground in the heart of New York City is located on prime real estate as well. This monument marks the burials of free and enslaved Americans. Shall we sacrifice those memorials to make way for private developers, who might see these places not as hallowed, but instead only as profit?
I'm saddened by Trump’s move, though hope remains this action by the current administration will be found to be illegal. Public lands should remain in public hands.