NEW MEXICO BUSINESS LEADERS CONDEMN PRESIDENT TRUMP’S EFFORTS TO SHRINK BEARS EARS AND GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENTS IN UTAH
For Immediate Release: December 4th, 2017
Contact: Carrie Hamblen, Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, 575-323-1575
Contact: Alex Merlino, Partnership for Responsible Business, 917-721-3127
LAS CRUCES, NM—Today, President Trump repealed protection from over 2 million acres of public lands in the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments in Utah, as per the recommendation from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. This unprecedented and illegal action represents the largest repeal of public land protections in our nation’s history. It follows President Trump’s April Executive Order ordering the Department of the Interior to review 27 national monuments established on our public lands under the Antiquities Act since 1996.
“It’s disheartening that the President is ignoring the will of the communities that surround these two monuments. His statement today demonstrates a complete disregard of the wishes of Native tribes, sportsmen, veterans, faith leaders, business owners, and more to keep the two monuments intact,” said Carrie Hamblen, CEO/President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. “The action by this administration is a complete affront to all of the national monuments under review and the communities that support them, including the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Las Cruces. If Trump can get away with this, no monuments are safe, including ours.”
New Mexico business owners are also concerned about today’s actions. Chris Lang, Founder of Organ Mountain Outfitters in Las Cruces, says, “As a business that embraces the outdoors, including Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, we are concerned that this attack on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante jeopardizes all of our nations’ national monuments. Reducing any of the monuments greatly impacts the economic benefits local businesses can experience with visitors to their areas.”
Arianna Parsons, co-owner of Beck’s Coffee, was one of the first businesses to create a monument inspired product. “Since launching the OMDP coffee blend, we have sold over 1,000 pounds to visitors and locals alike in Las Cruces. I worry that opportunities that we have in New Mexico will be impossible for locally owned businesses in Utah because of the changes to these two monuments. Businesses owners in places like Escalante and Kanab have invested a lot of money over many years and now President Trump is pulling the rug out from underneath them.”
Following Trump’s Executive Order, the Department of Interior held a 60-day comment period seeking input from Americans about the 27 monuments under review. During that time, 2.8 million public comments poured into Interior, with more than 99 percent of the comments received expressed support for maintaining or expanding national monuments.
In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law, protecting archeological, historical, scientific, and cultural sites for Americans. Since that time, according to the National Park Service, 157 national monuments have been created because of the act.
“What we have seen with this direction the Trump administration has taken to undo monuments created under the Antiquities Act is the single largest sell out of the rich cultural and natural history of our country. His decision opens up millions of acres of land for harmful development and throws away the priceless cultural sites, wildlife areas, recreation opportunities, and archeological resources,” said Alexandra Merlino, Executive Director of the New Mexico Partnership for Responsible Business. “New Mexicans will hold the President accountable, not just for the national monuments in our state, but for those throughout the country.”
“Rio Grande del Norte National Monument has significantly boosted our local economy and has been great for my business, my local vendors, and my employees,” said Anna Woodall, owner of Sol Food Market in Taos. “As a local business that thrives from the increased visitation to Rio Grande del Norte, I am concerned for the fate of the small local businesses like mine surrounding Bears Ears, Grand Staircase Escalante, and all the public lands under scrutiny by this administration.”
“The monument status of Rio Grande Del Norte is a great tool when selling the adventures that Los Rios River Runners offers. Monument status enhances the perceived value of our products, and has greatly helped to grow my business, but more importantly the monument is crucial for the health and safety of our community, wildlife, archaeological sites, land and water,” said Cisco Guevara owner of Los Rios River Runners. He continues, “the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument protects the land, that protects the water that protects us all. I worry about the communities surrounding Bears Ears and Escalante Grand Staircase, how can they protect their lands again unwanted mining and development without the protection of a national monument”?
In November, over 600 businesses and chambers of commerce from across the country signed a letter opposing any changes to the 27 national monuments by the Trump Administration. The letter was sent to Gary Cohn, Director of the National Economic Council, and stressed the positive economic impact national monuments have for the communities that surround them. The letter urged Director Cohn to inform the White House that the bottom lines of hundreds of mom and pop businesses are positively impacted by national monuments.
“In New Mexico, we love our national monuments and when you attack one, you attack them all. We will continue to stand with the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose these attacks on our history, favorite outdoor pastimes and cultural treasures,” said Hamblen. “We appreciate that our U.S. Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, have been tireless defenders of our monuments. We urge Congressman Steve Pearce to work with them to protect our cultural and natural heritage instead of urging the Trump Administration to eliminate Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks by nearly 90 percent.”