DENVER – A national monument in Colorado is among those potentially threatened if President Donald Trump rolls back protections for public lands, according to the Denver-based Center for Western Priorities.
Trump issued an executive order Wednesday authorizing a review of national monument designations under presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. The Antiquities Act of 1906 states that the president has the authority to declare landmarks and other historically important sites as national monuments in order to protect the land from damage or development.
Among the monuments that could be under scrutiny is Canyons of the Ancients in southwestern Colorado, according to the Center for Western Priorities. President Clinton declared the site a national monument in 2000.
Two other national monuments – Browns Canyon and Chimney Rock – were established under President Obama.
Map data provided by Center for Western Priorities
The Center for Western Priorities called the president’s executive order an “all-out assault on America’s public lands” with the goal being to eliminate the national monuments his predecessors established.
“Any attempt by President Trump to erase or shrink national monuments will meet strong resistance from the American people and the legal system. The law is clear—only Congress has the authority to erase or modify national monuments, and Congress has wisely used that power sparingly over the last hundred years,” CWP said in a statement.
Senator Michael Bennet also released a statement decrying the order.
“This is yet another example of Washington thinking it knows what’s best for Western communities,” Bennet said. “In Colorado, we made the case for national monument designations with thorough consultation and strong, bipartisan local support. Coloradans treasure public lands, which help drive our state’s thriving outdoor economy. Protecting these lands is a critical part of the legacy we pass onto future generations.”
In a tweet posted Wednesday morning, Sen. Cory Gardner was less direct, saying, "In Colorado we respect & value public lands. As a champion of the outdoors, I will continue to protect the public lands in our state."
Activity on America’s public lands is a major sector of the country’s economy, providing millions of jobs and billions in tax revenue. According to the Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation as a whole generates $887 billion in consumer spending through activities like camping, fishing, hunting, and snow sports. The industry also is responsible for 7.6 million jobs nationwide and more than $59 million in tax revenue for local and state governments.