First Word: Trump tramples on American National Parks

Chloe DeVitis, Op Ed Editor

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     On Monday, December 4th, there was a devastating decision made by Donald Trump and his administration to shrink public lands in Utah in order to privatize them. These public lands also happen to be the national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national park, that house Native American artifacts and wildlife.

     National parks by definition are either scenic or historically significant areas that are protected by the federal government for the enjoyment of the general public and the preservation of wildlife(dictionary.com). Trump has twisted the definition in a statement on Monday by saying, “Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what? They’re wrong” (Time).

     Trump’s statement, as usual, is incorrect and makes no sense. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national parks already belong to everyone because they are public land. The federal government merely protects these public rights against putting the land under ownership of a select few through preventing privatization. This preserves the wildlife as well as the historic significance of these public lands. Trump revolved his argument around making profits through drilling and mining at the expense of American historic lands that belong to all citizens.

     Bears Ears should remain public especially because it is home of hundreds of thousands of Native American artifacts, so environmental and tribal groups are rightfully planning to sue right after the decision was made. So, essentially expanding privatization of this land would ruin everything.
Donald Trump is the first president in 50 years to undo public land protections. Native American tribal leaders have worked together with the American government to make Bears ears into a National monument under Obama (grandcanyontrust.org). Shrinking these lands will not only permanently damage the environment, but also step on the rights of Native Americans, the most disadvantaged minority currently in the U.S. One of the reasons why tribal leaders even reached out to Obama was because they were mostly left out of the decision making process by Utah’s state leaders.

     Even though Trump claims that this is what the people of Utah want, 88 percent of Utah citizens who have commented on the decision have stated that they want these lands to remain public. By Utah citizens, Trump must be referring to the select few lobbyists that influenced him to give up the land to drillers.     

    The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources even posted about it on their twitter page, thanking Trump for allowing them to destroy the land for profits and resources that will most likely be exported. Their twitter page also continued posting claiming that bureaucrats should not be in control of the land and claimed that the government knows nothing about Native American rights or culture. Once again, this is a distorted argument because tribal leaders and Native American groups worked with the government in order to create this monument in the first place. Not to be controlled by the government, but protected by it.     

     Presidents like Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Carter, and George W. Bush have created monuments just like Obama had in 2016 for Bears Ears. Any president that has made changes to monuments before only made extremely small adjustments (The Atlantic).

     Overall multiple companies and Native American tribes (Navajo, Hopi, Ute Mountain Ute, the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Zuni)(nytimes.com) are planning on suing because of these ridiculous actions. There are 25 other monuments that the administration is supposedly arranged to review this year (Time). I can only hope that more backlash against the shrinking of these public lands will occur to push back if Trump continues to scale back the other 25 monuments. We cannot accept the destruction of wildlife and Native American historical artifacts/lands. We cannot trample on the rights of Native Americans just for the sake of drilling and profits. I refuse to respect a president that finds this acceptable.

Chloe is a senior Anthropology and German major . She is the BU Democrats Communications Coordinator and German Club Secretary. She is the op/ed editor at The Voice