This piece was reprinted by OpEd News with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
A letter from United States Senator from New Mexico, Martin Heinrich:
The President's unprecedented move to drastically shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in southern Utah tears at the heart of America's conservation legacy and is a direct assault on sacred lands and tribal sovereignty. President Trump has denied future generations the opportunity to learn about the past and explore the remote mesas and canyons that have inspired visitors and inhabitants, dating back thousands of years.
I'm confident that this shameful action will rightly face the same types of legal challenges as others pushed through by a White House hell-bent on appeasing a few extreme interests at the expense of the interests and values of the American people.
In the century plus since Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law, presidents from both political parties have used it to protect the places we all treasure and integral parts of who we are as Americans. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are unquestionably the types of places that the Antiquities Act was intended to protect for future generations. Dismantling protections for these landscapes sets a dangerous precedent that fuels an even larger campaign to attack many of our most treasured public lands across the nation.
PHOTO: My son Micah in Bears Ears National Monument during our family spring break trip to visit the monument, April 12, 2017.
I was proud to stand with southwestern tribes, including the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo, who were part of an Inter-Tribal Coalition that called for monument protection for the sacred sites and irreplaceable cultural resources in Bears Ears. For the tribes who hold this land in deep reverence, Bears Ears National Monument and the thousands of historic and cultural sites within it serve as essential symbols of their rich history and continued perseverance.
In recent years, I've joined communities in New Mexico to welcome monument protections for Bears Ears and for two of the most spectacular culturally and ecologically significant places in our state-the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. President Trump's actions today threaten both of those community-driven monuments that permanently protected iconic landscapes, increased recreational access, and have proven to be major drivers for our local economies.
I urge the American people to continue making their voices heard to oppose this un-American action by the Trump Administration. We have a moral responsibility as a nation to our children and all future generations of Americans to protect and conserve our natural and cultural heritage.
United States Senator
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).