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Trump Considers Removing National Monument Status ... But Can He?


The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in central Montana is home to an array of plant life, wildlife and unique geology. Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in central Montana is home to an array of plant life, wildlife and unique geology. Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management

On April 26, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing the Department of the Interior to review all national monuments created since Jan. 1, 1996 that contain more than 100,000 acres. The executive order could put more than 20 national monuments created by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in jeopardy. The monuments include a vast array of landscapes and historical sites.

Trump said the order would end the "egregious abuse of federal power" and return it "back to the states and to the people, where it belongs."

"The previous administration used a 100-year-old law known as the Antiquities Act to unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control," Trump said, "eliminating the ability of the people who actually live in those states to decide how best to use that land. Today, we are putting the states back in charge."

Trump was referring to the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives presidents the power to limit public use of land for historic, cultural and scientific reasons, by naming the areas as national monuments. President Teddy Roosevelt signed it into action. National monuments are usually smaller than national parks, and protect one "nationally significant resource," while national parks are designed to preserve many natural resources. National parks can only be established by Congress.

This latest executive order does not invalidate the monuments' current designations. Instead, it requires Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review them in the next 120 days and determine whether the previous presidents named them "in accordance with the requirements and original objectives" of the Antiquities Act, and whether they balance "the protection of landmarks, structures, and objects against the appropriate use of federal lands and the effects on surrounding lands and communities."

But if the answer to that is "no," one big question still remains: Can one president undo a previous president's proclamation to establish a national monument? It's never happened in the 111-year-history of the Antiquities Act, and many legal analysts and environmental groups say no. "This review is a first step toward monument rollbacks, which we will fight all the way," Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, told USA Today. "These public lands belong to all of us."

So which national monuments are under review by the Department of Interior? See the photo gallery below for more information.

Arizona

The Grand Canyon-Parashant monument is a remote archeological treasure with deep canyons, mountains and buttes. A variety of wildlife, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, wild turkey and four species of rattlesnakes, call this place home. Here you can see examples of paleozoic and mesozoic sedimentary rock layers up close. President Bill Clinton designated it a monument in January 2000.
The Grand Canyon-Parashant monument is a remote archeological treasure with deep canyons, mountains and buttes. A variety of wildlife, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, wild turkey and four species of rattlesnakes, call this place home. Here you can see examples of paleozoic and mesozoic sedimentary rock layers up close. President Bill Clinton designated it a monument in January 2000.
Bureau of Land Management
Ironwood Forest National Monument includes 129,000 acres (52,204.4 hectares) of Sonoran Desert mountains covered in with saguaro cacti and ironwood trees. Several endangered and threatened species call this place home, including the Nichols turks head cactus and the lesser long-nosed bat. It was created by President Clinton in June 2000.
Ironwood Forest National Monument includes 129,000 acres (52,204.4 hectares) of Sonoran Desert mountains covered in with saguaro cacti and ironwood trees. Several endangered and threatened species call this place home, including the Nichols turks head cactus and the lesser long-nosed bat. It was created by President Clinton in June 2000.
Bureau of Land Management
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is 280,000 acres (113311.9 hectares) located on the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona and includes the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. This remote area includes a variety of geological landscapes, including the Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes and Paria Canyon. It was established in November 2000 by President Clinton.
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is 280,000 acres (113311.9 hectares) located on the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona and includes the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. This remote area includes a variety of geological landscapes, including the Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes and Paria Canyon. It was established in November 2000 by President Clinton.
Bureau of Land Management

California

The Giant Sequoia National Monument covers 328,000 acres (132,736.8 hectares) of the Sequoia National Forest. The monument is home to Converse Basin Grove, once considered the largest sequoia grove in the Sierra, and the solitary Boole Tree, named for the lumber foreman who cut down all the other sequoias in this grove. The Giant Sequoia National Monument was designated by President Clinton in April 2000.
The Giant Sequoia National Monument covers 328,000 acres (132,736.8 hectares) of the Sequoia National Forest. The monument is home to Converse Basin Grove, once considered the largest sequoia grove in the Sierra, and the solitary Boole Tree, named for the lumber foreman who cut down all the other sequoias in this grove. The Giant Sequoia National Monument was designated by President Clinton in April 2000.
David McNew/Getty
Carrizo Plain National Monument is just a few hours from Los Angeles and is traversed by the famous San Andreas Fault. Some of its most spectacular features include the white alkali flats of Soda Lake and its vast grasslands, which, can be carpeted with wildflowers when conditions are right. The area was designated by President Clinton in January 2001.
Carrizo Plain National Monument is just a few hours from Los Angeles and is traversed by the famous San Andreas Fault. Some of its most spectacular features include the white alkali flats of Soda Lake and its vast grasslands, which, can be carpeted with wildflowers when conditions are right. The area was designated by President Clinton in January 2001.
Bureau of Land Management
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument includes nearly 331,000 acres (133,951 hectares) of rolling hills and steep canyons in northern Californias Inner Coast Range. The land surrounds the farms, ranches and orchards that stretch from Napa County to the mountains of the Mendocino National Forest. The area was designated by President Obama in July 2015.
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument includes nearly 331,000 acres (133,951 hectares) of rolling hills and steep canyons in northern Californias Inner Coast Range. The land surrounds the farms, ranches and orchards that stretch from Napa County to the mountains of the Mendocino National Forest. The area was designated by President Obama in July 2015.
Bureau of Land Management
The 1.6-million-acre (647,497-hectare) Mojave Trails National Monument features mountain ranges, ancient lava flows and fossil beds, and sand dunes. It's also home to rare plants and many native animals, and links the Pacific coast to the deserts of the Southwest. It was designated by President Obama in February 2016.
The 1.6-million-acre (647,497-hectare) Mojave Trails National Monument features mountain ranges, ancient lava flows and fossil beds, and sand dunes. It's also home to rare plants and many native animals, and links the Pacific coast to the deserts of the Southwest. It was designated by President Obama in February 2016.
Bureau of Land Management
Sand to Snow National Monument encompasses 154,000 acres (62321.5 hectares) in southern California, which are home to more than 240 species of birds and 12 threatened and endangered animals. The area also includes sacred archaeological and cultural sites, as well as nearly 1,700 Native American petroglyphs. The area was designated by President Obama in February 2016.
Sand to Snow National Monument encompasses 154,000 acres (62321.5 hectares) in southern California, which are home to more than 240 species of birds and 12 threatened and endangered animals. The area also includes sacred archaeological and cultural sites, as well as nearly 1,700 Native American petroglyphs. The area was designated by President Obama in February 2016.
Bureau of Land Management

New Mexico

The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument includes 242,500 acres (98136.2 hectares) of wide open plains, volcanic cones and steep canyons. The Ro Grande carves an 800-foot (243.8-meters) deep gorge through layers of volcanic basalt flows and ash. Ute Mountain, which reaches an elevation of 10,093 feet (3076.3 meters), is part of the monument designated by President Obama in March 2013.
The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument includes 242,500 acres (98136.2 hectares) of wide open plains, volcanic cones and steep canyons. The Ro Grande carves an 800-foot (243.8-meters) deep gorge through layers of volcanic basalt flows and ash. Ute Mountain, which reaches an elevation of 10,093 feet (3076.3 meters), is part of the monument designated by President Obama in March 2013.
Bureau of Land Management
The 496,330-acre (200,857-hectare) Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument includes important prehistoric, geologic and biologic resources. The area features hundreds of artifacts, rock art, dwellings and other evidence of native people who have called this place home. President Obama named it a national monument in May 2014.
The 496,330-acre (200,857-hectare) Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument includes important prehistoric, geologic and biologic resources. The area features hundreds of artifacts, rock art, dwellings and other evidence of native people who have called this place home. President Obama named it a national monument in May 2014.
Bureau of Land Management

Nevada

Basin and Range National Monument is just two hours from Las Vegas but worlds away. It provides a glimpse into America's past via ancient ruins, archeological and historical sites, and unique plants, including 2,000-year-old Bristlecone Pines in the Worthington Mountains. It was designated by President Obama in July 2015.
Basin and Range National Monument is just two hours from Las Vegas but worlds away. It provides a glimpse into America's past via ancient ruins, archeological and historical sites, and unique plants, including 2,000-year-old Bristlecone Pines in the Worthington Mountains. It was designated by President Obama in July 2015.
Bureau of Land Management
Gold Butte National Monument includes nearly 300,000 acres (121,405.6 hectares) of remote desert in southeastern Nevada, with red sandstone, twisting canyons and mountains. It was declared a national monument by President Obama in December 2016.
Gold Butte National Monument includes nearly 300,000 acres (121,405.6 hectares) of remote desert in southeastern Nevada, with red sandstone, twisting canyons and mountains. It was declared a national monument by President Obama in December 2016.
Bureau of Land Management

The Pacific

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument covers 490,343 square miles (1.26 million square kilometers) to the far south and west of Hawaii, and includes Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll, Howland Island, Baker Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll and Wake Island. The islands are home to many native species including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, birds and vegetation. President George W. Bush named the islands a national monument in January 2009, and President Obama expanded the monument in September 2014.
The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument covers 490,343 square miles (1.26 million square kilometers) to the far south and west of Hawaii, and includes Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll, Howland Island, Baker Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll and Wake Island. The islands are home to many native species including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, birds and vegetation. President George W. Bush named the islands a national monument in January 2009, and President Obama expanded the monument in September 2014.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife/Kydd Pollock
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is the United States' largest protected conservation area, and one of the world's largest marine conservation areas, covering 582,578 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers) of the Pacific Ocean. The coral reefs are home to more than 7,000 species, including the threatened green turtle and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. It was established in June 2006 by President Bush.
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is the United States' largest protected conservation area, and one of the world's largest marine conservation areas, covering 582,578 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers) of the Pacific Ocean. The coral reefs are home to more than 7,000 species, including the threatened green turtle and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. It was established in June 2006 by President Bush.

Utah

Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah includes 1.35 million acres (546325.6 hectares) of some of the most significant cultural landscapes in the United States. President Obama named the area, which includes thousands of archaeological sites, rock art, ancient cliff dwellings and ceremonial kivas, a national monument in December 2016.
Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah includes 1.35 million acres (546325.6 hectares) of some of the most significant cultural landscapes in the United States. President Obama named the area, which includes thousands of archaeological sites, rock art, ancient cliff dwellings and ceremonial kivas, a national monument in December 2016.
Bureau of Land Management
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument protects 1.88 million acres (760,809 hectares) of land in southern Utah, and it's the largest of all U.S. national monuments. The exposed layers of the "staircase" show a 4-billion-year timeline of geological history: the lower steps are located to the southern Grand Canyon region, while the upper, geologically youngest layer makes up the pink cliffs of the Grand Staircase to the north. President Clinton named the area a monument in September 1996.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument protects 1.88 million acres (760,809 hectares) of land in southern Utah, and it's the largest of all U.S. national monuments. The exposed layers of the "staircase" show a 4-billion-year timeline of geological history: the lower steps are located to the southern Grand Canyon region, while the upper, geologically youngest layer makes up the pink cliffs of the Grand Staircase to the north. President Clinton named the area a monument in September 1996.
Bureau of Land Management