Blog Post Ani Kame’enui Dec 21, 2017

2017 in Review: The Trump Administration’s 10 Worst Actions for Parks

It's been a brutal year for public lands.

At the beginning of December, President Donald Trump removed federal protections from two national monuments, ordering the largest reduction of public lands protections in U.S. history. These outrageous actions did not happen in isolation; they were the latest in a larger pattern of Trump administration rules and policies undermining America’s national parks and public lands.

What has the year been like for our public lands? Pretty brutal. This administration has made more than 30 dangerous and destructive decisions about America’s public lands in 2017. Here is NPCA’s new video on many of these terrible actions, and details on 10 of the “lowlights.”


1. January 23: Short-staffing parks

By: President Trump

Just days after taking office, President Trump issued a hiring freeze on federal civilian employees, including National Park Service staff, that lasted through mid-April. National parks already had 10 percent fewer rangers and other staff than they did a few years ago, despite contending with record-breaking crowds, and this temporary measure significantly hampered park staffing.


2. February 28: Rolling back water protections

By: President Trump

President Trump issued an executive order to review the Clean Water Rule, leading to a June 27 decision to repeal the rule. The rule provides clear and predictable protections for many streams, wetlands and other waterways that are essential to the health of our parks and communities.



3. March 28: Prioritizing energy production over park protection

By: President Trump

This one was a doozy. President Trump issued a sweeping executive order on “energy independence” with numerous negative consequences for public lands. It ordered, among other things:

  • The Department of the Interior to review safety and enforcement standards that protect more than 40 national parks from the impacts of oil and gas drilling inside their boundaries
  • The Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw and rewrite rules that mandate power plants limit carbon dioxide
  • Federal agencies to no longer consider the effects of climate change when deciding whether to issue permits for fossil fuel production
  • Both the EPA and Bureau of Land Management to delay enacting standards to reduce methane pollution from oil and gas operations


4. April 5: Pumping water out of the desert

By: The Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior took steps that could lead to the approval of the controversial Cadiz Inc. groundwater mining proposal, a destructive project that would pump 16 billion gallons of water per year from the Mojave Desert, affecting Mojave National Preserve and Mojave Trails National Monument.


5. April 26: Attacking national monuments

By: President Trump

President Trump issued an executive order requiring the Department of the Interior to review 27 national monuments designated by the Antiquities Act, going as far back as 1996, to recommend potential changes.



6. April 28: Opening more land to drilling

By: President Trump

President Trump issued an executive order calling on the Department of the Interior to consider granting energy developers access to areas previously closed to offshore oil and gas drilling, threatening coastal parks and marine wildlife. It also calls on the Department of Commerce to refrain from designating or expanding any national marine sanctuary until it is evaluated for energy resource potential, and to review any marine sanctuaries or monuments established over the last 10 years.


7. July 6: Allowing power lines at Jamestown

By: The Army Corps of Engineers

The Army Corps of Engineers granted a permit for Dominion Virginia Power to build 17 giant transmission towers across the James River. The project would permanently mar historic Jamestown, site of the country’s first permanent English settlement.



8. August 31: Ignoring climate change in park management

By: The National Park Service

The National Park Service rescinded Director’s Order 100. This order, enacted in 2016, directs the agency to use comprehensive, science-based management practices to combat climate change, biodiversity loss, invasive species, pollution and other threats to national parks. By repealing the measure, the agency is removing scientific considerations from its management practices.


9. October 10: Repealing the Clean Power Plan

By: The Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency moved to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions from energy development and improve conservation measures to combat climate change, the number one threat to national parks.



10. December 4: Eliminating national monuments

By: President Trump and the Department of the Interior

On the recommendation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, President Trump signed proclamations removing protections from more than 2 million acres of national monument land at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, opening up previously protected land to potential drilling, mining and logging.


And that’s not all. Read NPCA’s year-end policy update detailing all 30 of the attacks this administration has made on America’s national parks and public lands.

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Fortunately, NPCA has been fighting for national parks for nearly 100 years, and we aren’t going to stop after one year of setbacks. None of these actions are a done deal, and we are continuing to work passionately to undo the damage and restore protections for America’s most inspirational places. Thank you for being part of this fight.

Want to get the word out about the brutal year our parks have had? Share our new video on Facebook so your friends and family can see what’s at stake.

About the author

  • Ani Kame’enui Former Deputy Vice President, Government Affairs

    Ani Kame’enui is the Deputy Vice President for the Government Affairs team and responsible for managing NPCA's policy portfolio across a range of park issues. She comes to NPCA with a background in geology, water resources engineering, and a love for natural resource science and policy.

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