EAGLE POST - The newsletter of Friends of Eagles Nest Wilderness, apprising you of important activities in and around Eagles Nest, Holy Cross, and Ptarmigan Wilderness Areas. 

Dear *|FNAME|*, 
Our topic this month
The battle for our National Monuments

INTRODUCTIONSince President Trump issued an Executive Order in late April to review 27 National Monument designations, some of our county’s most iconic landscapes have been under threat.  In late August, Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a draft review of management regulations to the president with recommendations to reduce the size and/or change allowable uses in most of the Monuments.
Below, Julie Mach, Conservation Director for the Colorado Mountain Club, offers an expert analysis of the current situation.

By Julie Mach, Conservation Director, Colorado Mountain Club

What’s in a Monument?
History. Nature. Science. Solitude. Wildlife. Recreation. Controversy.

What was under review:
  • Any National Monument designated from 1996 to the present that is 100,000 acres or greater in size or made without adequate public consultation
  • 27 monuments total including sites managed by the National Parks Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Forest Service such as Bears Ears (UT), Grand Staircase-Escalante (UT), Giant Sequoia (CA), Organ Mountains-Desert Peak (NM), Katahdin Woods & Waters (ME) and many others.
  • Canyons of the Ancients was the only one of Colorado’s eight monuments included in the review - 178,000 acres established in June of 2000 – and is celebrated as the most archeologically dense area in the United States.
Review Process:
Step 1:  An examination of existing proclamations, object(s) to be protected, the scientific and rational basis for the boundaries, land uses within the monument, public access concerns and authorized traditional uses, and appropriate environmental and cultural protections.
Step 2:  Host a series of meetings with local, state, tribal, elected officials, non-profit groups and other stakeholders.  Secretary Zinke visited eight of 27 monuments during the review period.
Step 3:  Review policies on public access, hunting and fishing rights, traditional use such as timber production and grazing, economic and environmental impacts, and potential legal conflicts.
Public Input:
From May 5 through July 10, more than 2.4 million comments were submitted to the Department of the Interior and were “overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining existing monuments and demonstrated a well-orchestrated national campaign organized by multiple organizations,” according to Zinke’s report summary.  Great work everyone!  Conservation groups, history buffs, wildlife lovers, rock hounds and recreationists united in an impressive show of support for these landscapes.  Many of the opposing comments came from local residents associated with industries such as grazing, timber production, mining, hunting and fishing, and motorized recreation.Canyons of the Ancients
Findings and Next Steps
During the 120 day review process, six monuments, including Canyons of the Ancients, were removed from the review prior to the August 24th deadline with a recommendation of NO changes.
Secretary Zinke submitted his draft review to president Trump on August 24, and while he did not recommend fully eliminating any of the monument designations, there is still fear that large cuts could significantly reduce monument size and rescind protective management from hundreds of thousands of acres.  Zinke declined to provide public details on specific recommendations but has proposed major downsizing to Utah’s new Bears Ears National Monument.  There is no word on when the full review and recommendations will be made public.
According to the administration, the steps outlined in the review process were intended to help the Secretary determine whether current designations meet the nature and intent of 1906 Antiquities Act – the law used to create monuments through congressional actions and presidential proclamation – and to ensure public input and support for the designations.  However, the reality is that monument designations are never made in a vacuum or on a fast timeline: they take years of grassroots organizing, building political support, reviewing boundaries with land managers and users, assessing economic and natural resource impacts and crafting of a proclamation.  Even after the designation, the monuments must undergo an extensive management planning process (complete with public input) before major use changes take effect.  A recent example is Browns Canyon National Monument in Central Colorado which started as a Wilderness Campaign in the '90s, finally received monument designation in 2015, and has only just started the assessment phase of management planning. 
Brown's Canyon hearing
The national monument review process initiated by president Trump’s executive order is essentially a duplicative effort to search for legal loopholes and undermine the years of work spent on monument designation, coalition building, and policy development.  Furthermore, it represents a larger attack on public land protections and bedrock conservation laws, like the Antiquities Act.  These broad attacks are likely motivated by development pressures from extractive industries like oil and gas, timber and mining.  Development and extraction are often prohibited in National Monuments in order to protect the sensitive historic and natural resources within the designated area.  But the president’s review sends a clear message that even our protected landscapes may not be as secure as we would hope.  Environmental groups have threatened suits over any final recommendations on monument resizing so the fallout from twriting campaignhis review is likely to be tied up in legislation for years to come.  In the meantime, as lovers and advocates of public lands, we must continue to support and steward our Monuments, Wilderness area, and non-designated landscapes through engagement in public comment campaigns, pressure on legislative representatives, and participation in land management planning processes.  Furthermore, we must ENJOY these landscapes – learn their history, discover their wildlife, explore their trails, and cherish the unique resources hidden within each of them.  That is when we will truly find everything in our monuments worth protecting.

 ABOUT JULIE MACH: Julie Mach is the Conservation Director for the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) and is dedicated to protecting sustainable recreational opportunities on public lands throughout the state.  CMC’s unique approach to Conservation includes a combination of advocacy and stewardship work to motivate grassroots management Julie Machchanges from the bottom up, to inform policy decisions from the top down, and to support on-the-ground implementation through project work and volunteer engagement.  As an avid hiker, mountain biker, backcountry skier, kayaker, and equestrian, Julie is passionate about playing in the outdoors but she is also sensitive to the pressures and impacts of multi-use recreation on public lands.  Through land use planning, smart trail design, and capacity building for public land managers, she aims to strike a balance that allows for sustainable use while protecting the incredible natural landscapes and resources that make Colorado a unique place to live, work and play.


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Volunteer for our 2017 Trail projectsDetails 
Wed & Thu September 6 & 7: DAY projects: Learn cross-cut sawing as we clear Salt Lick Trail of about 45 downed trees. Contact Jerry Kelly (jkelly1264@gmail.com). 
Thu-Sun, Sept 14-17: Pack-in project: Missouri Lakes Project. Two work days Holy Cross Wilderness. Reservations necessary (Tim Drescher: timdcy@gmail.com). 
In 2016, we spent two weekends at alpine lakes and obliterated 54 illegal campfire rings. Join our crews in 2017!

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In 2016, more than 50 VWRs contacted more than 12,000 hikers. Greet & teach!

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