How are our national parks faring under the Trump administration and its Republican Congress? Let's take a look at the latest actions, and you can decide for yourselves.
The Trump Administration is Determined to Shrink National Monuments
While Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claims the administration won't be abolishing monuments, he does intend to shrink many of them. We don't know yet which monuments will be cut down, but we do know he wants to reduce Bears Ears National Monument from its current size of 1.35 million acres down to about 160,000 acres. That's an appalling amount of pristine public land with deep significance to Southwestern tribes that would be at risk of development, exploitation, and mining. Democratic legislators are being kept in the dark.
Most of the acreage under fire is land set aside during Obama's adminstration. 99% of the American public who commented in regards to Trump's executive order to review the monuments oppose any such reductions.
The Trump Administration's Proposed Budget Slashes National Park Funding
Under Trump's proposed FY'18 budget, the National Park Service and the public they serve will lose out big time:
- Thousands of jobs will be lost
- Visitors' services will be slashed
- Campgrounds and other facilities will close
- Facilities, roads, and other park structures will fall further into disrepair
- Natural and cultural resources will be imperiled
- Important projects will lose funding
None of this is good for the health of our public lands.
The Trump Administration is Muzzling the National Park Service
Administration officials inside the Department of the Interior literally deleted NPS Acting Director Michael Reynolds's comments on proposed legislation that would allow hunters to kill bear cubs in their dens, prevented the NPS from regulating commercial fishing within national parks, and forbidden Park Service officials from even commenting on development projects outside Park boundaries that could negatively impact the parks.
Reynolds objected to these and other parts of the bill in a memo sent to the U.S. Department of Interior’s Legislative Counsel. The park service later received a response from Interior, with sections of Reynolds’ concerns crossed out, next to the initials “C.H.”
Agency officials were told they could not repeat their concerns to Congress, according to Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, who obtained the memo and provided a copy to McClatchy.
Administration officials are trying to claim they never intended to muzzle NPS officials, but those denials are dubious considering the Trump track record.
The Trump Administrations is Silencing NPS Climate Change Experts
And speaking of muzzling, Trump administration officials removed climate experts from Mark Zuckerberg's tour of Glacier National Park's melting glaciers. Park officials were also forbidden from posting about his visit on social media - including on Zuck's own Facebook.
The Trump Administration is Overturning Sensible NPS Regulations
And, to add plastic pollution to the mix, the Trump administration will no longer allow the National Park Service to regulate the sale of bottled water on public lands. Not only will this increase pollution in our parklands, it will cut off an environmentally-friendly revenue stream:
To offset the sudden elimination of water bottles for thirsty visitors, the Park Service spent millions of dollars to install water stations. Only 18 parks had instituted the ban, but its effect over time stood to be far more significant once they all became involved.
Grand Canyon National Park estimated several years ago that water bottles constituted 30 percent of the 900 tons of garbage it recycled. Zion National Park estimated that its sale of reusable bottles that visitors took home skyrocketed by 78 percent once it banned bottled-water sales.
Our public lands deserve better. Contact your member of Congress today and demand they support the National Park Service and protect our national monuments.