Teddy Roosevelt he’s not. The 25th president was all about preserving our natural resources. He established national forests and monuments, bird reserves, game reserves and national parks too. During his time in office, Roosevelt protected 230 million acres of public land. He was the conservationist president who once said, “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.”
What a difference a century makes.
Today Donald Trump gutted two national monuments in Utah. Bears Ears will be reduced by about 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante will be cut in half. It was the largest reduction of national monuments in American history. Two million acres will now be made available to private interests, read mineral companies, gas and oil. Trump hailed the move as an action to reverse federal overreach. But native American groups promised to see the President in court. Perhaps they should wait because Trump isn’t finished. Ten more monuments could be on the chopping block across the country.
Trump’s actions today will no doubt solidify his friendships with the ranching and mineral interests. “Public lands will once again be for public use,” he said in Salt Lake City. But it’s the words of another president that came to mind today. These are the words of Lyndon Johnson: “Once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature, his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted.”