RELEASE: New CAP Analysis Reveals Scientific Value of 22 Monuments Under Secretary Zinke’s Review

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Washington, D.C. — A new analysis and interactive from the Center for American Progress highlights the unique ecological and scientific value of the 22 land-based monuments currently under review by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The analysis, conducted in partnership with Conservation Science Partners, finds that these monuments offer exceptional diversity that would be threatened should the Trump administration and Secretary Zinke eliminate or shrink the monument status granted to these areas.

The analysis includes Basin and Range, Bears Ears, Berryessa Snow Mountain, Canyons of the Ancients, Cascade Siskiyou, Carrizo Plain, Craters of the Moon, Giant Sequoia, Gold Butte, Grand Canyon-Parashant, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hanford Reach, Ironwood Forest, Katahdin Woods and Waters, Mojave Trails, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Rio Grande del Norte, Sand to Snow, San Gabriel Mountains, Sonoran Desert, Upper Missouri River Breaks, and Vermilion Cliffs.

“These national monuments are—scientifically and ecologically speaking—some of the most spectacular places in the country,” said Jenny Rowland, research and advocacy manager for Public Lands at CAP. “President Donald Trump’s attack on these parks puts our most wild landscapes, best rare species habitat, darkest skies, and most climate-resilient places at risk too.”

Secretary Zinke is currently conducting a review of these monuments, with an eye towards eliminating or shrinking them. The U.S. Department of the Interior has opened a comment period on the subject until July 10.

“If Secretary Zinke’s wildly unpopular recommendation to shrink Bears Ears National Monument is any indication, these stunningly beautiful landscapes are at grave risk of losing valuable protections,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, director of policy for Public Lands at CAP. “Our national monuments should be conserved for future generations, not left vulnerable to oil, gas, and mineral development.”

CAP’s analysis utilized 12 separate indicators—including bird diversity, climate resilience, uninterrupted landscapes, ecological intactness (a measure of how “wild and remote” a place is), biodiversity, rare ecosystems, unique terrain, soil diversity, mammal diversity, night sky darkness, rare species, and reptile diversity—that reveal the ecological and scientific importance of the monuments listed above. For instance, Bears Ears National Monument protects a largely uninterrupted landscape that is wilder and more ecologically valuable than nearly all similarly sized places in the West, is home to a high concentration of rare and endangered species, and offers a night sky that appears darker than nearly anywhere else in the West. Meanwhile, Giant Sequoia National Monument ranks among the best in the West for protecting a rich diversity of species from the adverse consequences of climate change.

Click here to view “Monumental Superstars: The Best of the Best National Monuments in the Country” by Jenny Rowland, Mary Ellen Kustin, and Mathew Brady.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at apreiss@americanprogress.org or 202.478.6331.

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