Today is the 101st birthday of the National Park Service. But at a time when we should be celebrating our public lands, the Trump administration continues to unleash a host of damaging policies on these revered places.
If your head has been spinning from the onslaught of terrible news for our national parks and public lands, I can relate. The past several months have unraveled important park protection work that NPCA and so many others worked for years to accomplish.
Late August is usually a time of celebration for public lands. Today, the National Park Service marks its 101st birthday. For over a century, this agency has devoted itself to protecting the federal lands set aside as the most significant our country has to offer.
But instead of rejoicing in these iconic and inspirational parks, the Trump administration has spent months ignoring the overwhelming will of the public, culminating in yesterday’s announcement that the Department of Interior will attempt to reduce the size of a “handful” of national monuments, changes to established public lands that NPCA’s experts have determined are outright illegal.
Time and time again, federal officials have taken wide-ranging, harmful and deeply unpopular actions that threaten — and even undo — these very places our government is charged with preserving.
Months of rollbacks culminating in reductions to our monuments
Here are just a few of the actions by the administration that NPCA has been deeply concerned about.
On March 16, the administration proposed a 13 percent cut to Park Service funding — a move that would represent the largest cut to the agency since World War II. This would mean fewer rangers to care for our parks and fewer resources for educational programs and other services for visitors. [Learn more.]
On March 28, President Donald Trump issued an executive order charging the Department of the Interior with reviewing rules for oil and gas drilling inside the boundaries of national park sites. If the rules are weakened or overturned, it would put more than 40 national parks at risk, including Everglades, Cuyahoga Valley and Mesa Verde. [Learn more.]
On April 16, President Trump issued an executive order calling on the Department of the Interior to reopen its already finalized five-year plan for offshore drilling with the potential to open more marine areas to energy development, including areas near national park sites such as Cape Hatteras and Everglades. [Learn more.]
On June 26, the administration called for the repeal of the Clean Water Rule, a federal regulation that clarifies which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. Overturning this rule could lead to significant weakening of water protections throughout the country, including the waters that healthy national parks and their wildlife depend on. [Learn more.]
On July 6, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a permit that would allow Dominion Energy, one of the country’s largest energy suppliers, to build 17 enormous transmission towers across the James River, near Colonial National Historical Park, the site of the United States’ first English colony. This development would permanently mar one of America’s most historic landscapes despite the availability of other less intrusive options to meet the region’s energy needs. [Learn more.]
On July 19, the Department of the Interior called for a reexamination of rules that protect bears and wolves in national preserves in Alaska from egregious hunting methods, including baiting bears with grease-soaked donuts and killing mother bears with their cubs. [Learn more.]
With yesterday’s announcement, the administration is not just poised to harm our public lands — federal officials are actively undoing protections on our land and water. These are places that stakeholders fought for years and sometimes decades to establish, including tribal leaders, business owners, recreational enthusiasts and community members. To remove protections from these beloved places through an arbitrary and illegitimate process is an insult to the magnificent lands and sacred sites these monuments represent.
NPCA believes that these changes — and the entire process by which the administration has developed them — are completely unacceptable, and we will not let this stand.
What you can do
Watch our new video, and please share it with your friends:
Call your members of Congress and ask them to oppose the damaging overreach of the Trump administration and its effects on our national parks, public health and tourism economies.
Consider donating to NPCA’s legal defense fund. In many cases, our best recourse for protecting national parks is by challenging damaging policies in court.
Consider visiting a park this weekend. I firmly believe that these are places that unite us across political differences. People overwhelmingly love these lands and the shared history they represent. I know an afternoon in some of my favorite parks — sailing on the Chesapeake Bay or hiking at Shenandoah — fills me with the inspiration to continue defending these wonderful places.
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NPCA has been advocating for national parks for 98 years, working with people of every political persuasion to protect our beloved lands, waters, wildlife, and historic and cultural sites — and we aren’t stopping now. We will fight back against this and all attempts by the administration to dismantle more than a century of park protection.
Thank you for being on this journey with us and continuing to defend these irreplaceable lands and waters from harm.
About the author
Kristen Brengel Vice President of Government Affairs
As the Vice President of Government Affairs, Kristen Brengel leads staff on public lands conservation, natural and cultural resource issues, and park funding. Kristen is responsible for implementing our legislative strategies and working with the administration.