More than 100 groups call on Congress to oppose weakening national park protections

More than 100 groups call on Congress to oppose weakening national park protections
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In conjunction with national park week, 122 groups sent a letter to Congress Tuesday urging members to oppose any legislation that might weaken protections of national parks and monuments.

The letter — signed by various groups representing the LGBTQ community, women, disabled Americans, African-Americans and others — calls the shrinking of national monuments an attack on the Antiquities Act.

"Any attack on our public lands, monuments, oceans, and waters is an attack on our communities, our history, our contributions to this great nation, and our culture; and it robs the next generation of a chance to learn from these shared treasures," reads the letter. "It has often been said that our nation’s public lands system is one of our best ideas; we must now come together to protect these special places."

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The letter comes months after President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE signed off on shrinking the borders of two national monuments in Utah's Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante that were designated under an Obama administration executive order. The current administration has said it is reconsidering the boundaries of other national and marine monuments.

"Congress should not be making it harder to protect places that can make our parks and monuments system more inclusive and tell the fuller story of our nation’s history," the group's letter reads. "That is why we urge you to reject any legislation that would limit the president’s authority under the Antiquities Act or codify any unlawful rollbacks of existing national monuments."

One bill in Congress aims to limit the president's ability to establish national monuments under an executive order. The National Monument Creation and Protection Act sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Overnight Energy: House moves to block Trump drilling | House GOP rolls out proposal to counter offshore drilling ban | calls mount for NOAA probe House GOP rolls out energy proposal to counter Democrats offshore drilling ban MORE (R-Utah) would require congressional approval for new monuments larger than 85,000 acres. 

The groups argue that the monuments highlight the country's diversity — a jab at recent comments reportedly made by Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeInterior gains new watchdog The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks BLM issues final plan for reduced Utah monument MORE downplaying diversity's importance.

"We envision the establishment of public lands that reflect the diverse culture and experiences of our people, and respect and uplift our collective experience in America," said Kevin Bryan, coordinator for the Next 100 Coalition, one of the groups that signed the letter.

"Sites such as Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, Bears Ears National Monument, and Cesar E. Chavez National Monument represent the historical and cultural fabric that connects our diverse communities as a united people.”