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Colo. National Monuments at Risk Under Expected Trump Order

National monument protections for places such as Colorado's Chimney Rock could be removed if the U.S. Department of the Interior disagrees with their designations. (USDA)
National monument protections for places such as Colorado's Chimney Rock could be removed if the U.S. Department of the Interior disagrees with their designations. (USDA)
April 26, 2017

DENVER - President Trump today is expected to order a review of all national monuments designated since the Clinton administration. Trump has said he wants to reverse what he sees as government intrusion and cancel what he claims are job-killing regulations.

Keith Baker, a retired naval commander and Chaffee County commissioner who helped secure federal protections for Browns Canyon, said that if Trump wants to keep jobs, monuments should be left alone. He pointed to recent research by Headwaters Economics that showed towns thriving in the West are all close to protected public lands.

"It's an important part of our brand here in the Mountain West," Baker said. "Public lands, which commemorate historic values of the United States, add economic value. It's been shown time and time again."

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation adds $887 billion in consumer spending to the U.S. economy and supports more than 7 million jobs. About 20 monument designations could come under scrutiny, including Colorado's Browns Canyon, Chimney Rock and Canyon of the Ancients.

Baker said he thinks Trump's move amounts to an attack on the Antiquities Act, which gives presidents the authority to protect lands with significant natural or cultural value. Some lawmakers say federal protections should be made by Congress, and while Baker agrees, he noted that when Congress won't act, you have to use the tools you've got. He added that it takes a lot of public support to get monuments designated.

"Most of them - like in the case of Browns Canyon - enjoyed widespread public support, including local support," he said, "or else they wouldn't have been designated."

Since Congress passed the Antiquities Act in 1906, eight Republican and eight Democratic presidents have used it to establish national monuments. The most recent "Conservation in the West" survey by Colorado College found 80 percent of Western voters want to see protections kept in place, and only 13 percent favor removing them.

The Headwaters study is online at headwaterseconomics.org, the Outdoor industry research is at outdoorindustry.org and the Colorado College poll is at coloradocollege.edu.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO