Staff Editorial: Removal of protection from Utah lands will trigger numerous widespread negative affects

President Donald Trump “sharply reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah … by some two million acres,” on Monday Dec. 4, according to The New York Times. This act was a clear continuation of the Trump administration’s inadmissible disregard for environmental and cultural issues. 

Former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton placed protections on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah during their time in office in hopes of preserving “their culture, history and natural beauty,” according to CNN.

This controversial decision was backed by Utah Republicans as “they argue the protected areas were unnecessarily vast, limiting the potential for economic growth,” The Washington Post reports.

Removing protection from these lands, however, will put priceless cultural significance, historical artifacts and environmental conservation at risk. It is superfluous to remove two million acres of land from protection because “90 percent of U.S. public lands are open to oil and gas leasing and development; only 10 percent are protected for recreation, conservation and wildlife,” according to a message from Patagonia in The Washington Post.

Trump’s blatant ignorance regarding the importance of protected land will not only affect Utah, but will likely put “dozens of other monuments at risk and possibly [open] millions of preserved public acres to oil and gas extraction, mining, logging and other commercial activities,” according to The New York Times.

Furthermore, companies such as Recreational Equipment, Inc. and Patagonia have taken a stand to voice their concerns regarding the outdoor recreation industry. This impact—which many probably have not considered—would put an industry that accounts for “7.6 million jobs and $877 billion in annual consumer spending” at risk, according to the Huffington Post.

This recent order by Trump will have widespread affects, and policies such as these cannot continue to come to fruition. While many see this as an unimportant issue, this could not be further from the truth. The New York Times reports that this is “the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history,” and the negative effects are seemingly endless.u

 It is imperative to stand with companies such as REI and Patagonia and voice concerns regarding the Trump administration’s attitude toward environmental issues.