By: Karen L. Menehan
Sequoia National Park is home to the giants among trees, redwoods that can live up to 3,000 years and at their tallest reach the height of a 26-story building. The park, a three-hour drive from Santa Cruz, is considered a U.S. National Monument.
A U.S. National Monument is an area of protected land, similar in some ways to a National Park.
Along with five other monuments in California and an additional 15 national monuments spread out around the U.S., Sequoia National Park is currently under review to determine if the monuments are too big for their own good—or, rather, too big for developers’ good.
The review was ordered by President Donald J. Trump. Right now the review is at the point of allowing public comments.
This is where the SCI Public Lands action team—and you—come in.
Show Support Now
The outcome of the review could result in some areas of the monuments being vulnerable to development.
According to SCI Public Lands team leader Brandon Bible, national monuments serve as places where anyone can experience the undeveloped, beautiful areas of our nation.
“[They’re] the ultimate equalizer, where somebody from an inner city can go out in to the countryside or wilderness and have the same experience as someone who already lives there,” Bible said. “It gives everyone an opportunity to experience things in wilderness in their original format before they were tampered with by humans.”
Bible said that a two-part action is needed now to show support for the National Monuments.
First, click here to comment about your support of the national monuments. The deadline to do so is July 10 at 8:59 p.m. PDT.
According to Bible, specificity is key when commenting, rather than lodging a general statement about how much you like national monuments. In your comment, explain why you care about the preservation of public lands and if you have an affinity for a specific national monument, share that in your comment. (The full list of monuments under review is below.)
Second, call your representatives to tell them that you want them to know they have constituents who care about public lands, and to factor that into their decision when it’s time to vote on Trump’s proposed budget.
The SCI Public Lands action team has already laid the groundwork for you. Visit the team’s page on santacruzindivisible.org to see the call script and contact information for Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, for example. (Note, though, that you may comment on any national monuments.)
“I want them to know it’s surprisingly easy to submit these comments or make calls,” Bible said. “We are trying to the heavy lifting, doing the researching and making call scripts to get in touch with your member of congress—so if you only have 10 minutes … you can still get actions done and make a difference.”
National Monuments Under Review
The complete list of national monuments under review is:
Arizona: Grand Canyon-Parashant; Ironwood Forest; Sonoran Desert; Vermillion Cliffs
California: Berryessa Snow Mountain: Carrizo Plain: Giant Sequoia; Mojave Trails; Sand to Snow; San Gabriel Mountains
Colorado: Canyons of the Ancients
Idaho: Craters of the Moon
Maine: Katahadin Woods and Waters
Montana: Upper Missouri River Breaks
Nevada: Basin and Range; Gold Butte
New Mexico: Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks; Rio Grande del Norte
Oregon: Cascade Siskiyou
Utah: Bears Ears; Grand Staircase-Escalante
Washington: Hanford Reach
Your Action At-A-Glance
• Call your representative. Click here to find your representative or copy http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ into your browser.
• Click here to use the Department of the Interior’s portal for public comments or copy https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001 into your browser.
Bible said even though Santa Cruz resident currently have representatives who tend to vote on the side of the environment, it’s still important to keep a line of positive communication with them open.
“It’s important to thank our members of Congress when we agree with them,” he said. “It’s easy to think we’re not making a difference with our calls since we already agree with them—but supporting them now will embolden them to take further steps to protect public lands and wildlife down the road.”
Karen L. Menehan is a journalist and editor based in Santa Cruz, California.