Twenty-seven protected lands in America are now threatened by the government. Our national monuments could be shrunk or entirely depleted, thanks to an executive order signed by President Trump last April. The threatened areas span more than 11 million acres of land and a whopping 760 million acres of sea. Plus, these monuments are all aesthetically breathtaking, ecologically sensitive and culturally important.
The president plans to open them for development and other commercial activities as soon as he can. Future generations could be robbed of America’s pristine natural marvels that often consist of rare wildlife habitat, archaeological ruins and historic landscapes.
Enter Robbie Bond, a 10-year-old environmental powerhouse. When he earned his Every Kid in the Park Pass, which is available to fourth graders nationwide for free entry into national parks, Robbie headed out to explore America’s public lands. When he heard of Trump’s executive order that could slash the protection of these stunning areas, he realized the land needed a voice. Now, Robbie is that voice.
Robbie is touring America’s national parks and monuments to raise awareness of their imminent destruction, gathering supporters every step of the way. He created his own nonprofit, Kids Speak for Parks, encouraging youngsters to protect these natural marvels through his inspiring education and activism. More than 3,000 people have signed Robbie’s petition to tell President Trump “hands off our parks,” and he wants you to follow suit.
Robbie has slept under the stars in the Mojave Desert of California, discovered petroglyphs in Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients and kayaked the San Juan River — which is no longer fully protected — in Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. All told, he’s visited 14 national monuments since beginning his journey, 12 of which are threatened by Trump’s executive order.
According to Robbie, the most beautiful monument he has seen is Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah. Since he first visited, the protected lands of this monument have been torn in half by the government. The once-preserved areas will now be open for oil drilling, mining and more environmentally destructive activities. Though this act has supporters on both sides, environmentalists like Robbie are heartbroken.
Grand Staircase-Escalante is just one of the monuments that has been dismantled by Trump’s executive order so far. Bears Ears, a national monument also in Utah, is also a victim. Bears Ears was protected as a national monument by former President Obama, who designated it as such in his final days in office. Months later, President Trump has worked to unravel Obama’s designation. Trump reduced the size of this national monument by 85 percent.
As these environmentally devastating acts continue, Robbie and his fellow activists will be fighting back to protect our public lands. Thankfully, there are plenty of environmentalists acting as a voice for America’s monuments.
Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, and CEO, Rose Marcario, both went on the offensive when Trump signed the executive order to reduce the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Plastered on the front page of Patagonia’s website were the words “The President Stole Your Land,” and they encouraged people to take action against the largest elimination of protected land in American history. Both Chouinard and Marcario continue to use their influence to fight this executive order and future actions by Trump that will diminish public lands.
The actions of Chouinard and Marcario were part of what inspired Robbie to take a stand himself and start his own nonprofit dedicated to protecting public lands.
Are any of the threatened national monuments near you? Explore them! It won’t be difficult to realize why environmentalists like Robbie want to preserve these lands for future generations.