Monuments Matter: Our Formal Response to Monument Review, MS-1530

This is an image I shot in May atop Blue Ridge, west of Vacaville, California. The setting sun provided some really nice colors that evening, and the long focal length and atmosphere brought out the blues and purples in the mountains. Some scenes are just difficult to convey with a photograph. I remember standing there with the breeze going, amazed at the layers that were illuminated. Photographs bring the visual elements to the viewer, but what they fail to bring is the breeze, the temperature, the movement, the smell, the sounds, and the view/story behind the camera. Video adds a few of those, but it also has limitations. This was one of those evenings that I wish I could just transport viewers from their computer, to the top of Blue Ridge. Canon 5D Mark II Canon 100-400L @190mm 1/10 second exposure @ F8 Singh-Ray 3 stop reverse hard grad filter This is one single image @ ISO 50

The Conservation Alliance has a 28-year history of investing in efforts to protect public lands for their habitat and recreation values. In April, President Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all national monument designations larger than 100,000 acres from the past 21 years to determine whether their boundaries are consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act. The Conservation Alliance actively supported 10 of the 27 monuments under review.

Below is our formal comment submitted under Monument Review, MS-1530:

June 29, 2017

The Honorable Secretary Ryan Zinke
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
RE: Monument Review, MS-1530
Dear Secretary Zinke,
On behalf of our membership, thank you for the opportunity to provide comment to Monument Review, MS-1530. The Conservation Alliance is a group of more than 200 outdoor industry and enthusiast companies nationwide that manufacture and sell products for use and enjoyment in the outdoors. As engaged stakeholders that depend on the wild landscapes where our customers recreate, we strongly oppose any executive action that would reduce or rescind any national monument under review.
We have already submitted comments specific to your review of the Bears Ears National Monument, so this submission focuses on the other monuments under review. The Conservation Alliance has a 28-year history of supporting conservation efforts that benefit outdoor recreation. During that time, our 200+ member companies have invested their time and financial resources in efforts to secure protection for ten of the terrestrial monuments currently under review:

  • Bears Ears National Monument
  • Berryessa-Snow Mountain National Monument
  • Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
  • Gold Butte National Monument
  • Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
  • Mojave Trails National Monument
  • Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
  • San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
  • Sand to Snow National Monument
  • Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

Together, these monuments preserve world-class outdoor recreation, important wildlife habitat, and sensitive cultural artifacts and archaeological sites. These landscapes are among the special protected places that make the Western United States unique. Cherished by people who live nearby, and by those who visit from far away, our national monuments are an essential chapter in our American story. They provide rare opportunities for adventure, inspiration, and solace. They are also an important economic driver.
National monuments are a key asset for the outdoor recreation economy. The customers of our member companies – hikers, climbers, skiers, backpackers, paddlers, mountain bikers, hunters, and anglers – need protected landscapes to use the products our members make and sell. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in direct consumer spending, and supports 7.6 million jobs nationwide. Each of the national monuments under review contributes to this economic activity.
In addition to their contributions to the outdoor recreation economy, national monuments drive economic activity in communities near these landscapes. A recent study of 17 national monuments by Headwaters Economics found that the local economies surrounding each of the monuments grew following the monument designation. Population, employment, personal income, and per-capita income all increased in these communities after creation of the monuments. The study also found no evidence that the new national monuments prevented economic growth.
Beyond the economic benefits they offer, national monuments are overwhelmingly supported by Americans nationwide. This review has triggered one of the largest outpouring of support for our protected public lands that our country has ever seen. To date, well over one million people have submitted comments, and the overwhelming majority, over 95%, urge you to keep the monument boundaries as they are. With this letter, we add our voice to that wave of support.
The process that led to the designation of these monuments was thorough and transparent. Local residents, outdoor enthusiasts, businesses, chambers of commerce, and elected officials took the opportunity to weigh in on proposed protections after years of negotiation. Thank you for reviewing the decades of hard work and thoughtful consideration that culminated in the designation of the national monuments under review. We are confident that any serious review of these places will confirm that their boundaries are appropriate, and that previous Presidents did the right thing by protecting these special landscapes.
We look forward to working with you to steward America’s greatest public land treasures in a manner that allows future generations of Americans to enjoy these wild places. Our national monuments are national treasures and preserving their existing boundaries is an investment in our future.
John Sterling
Executive Director