Millions of people visit the U.S. each year for a lot of different reasons, but one major draw is the many national parks, monuments and wildernesses the country offers. There are more than 100 million acres of wilderness areas in the U.S. National parks, like the Grand Canyon and the Grand Staircase attract people from all over the world because of their natural, untouched beauty.
If you want to see these areas in their natural state, I suggest you go visit now before it’s too late; before mining companies claim their territory.
In December of last year, the Trump administration eviscerated two national monuments in Utah put under protection during the Clinton and Obama administrations: The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument.
Trump claimed the move was to undo the previous administrations’ “overreach” in establishing national monuments that were much larger than necessary. But no evidence was given to support this claim.
Many speculated that the shrinking of the national monuments was purely to allow mining and other extractive industries to move into these areas.
In July, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance announced in a press release that the Trump administration supported the expansion of coal mining at the base of Bryce Canyon National Park. The proposed 3,600-acre expansion of the Alton mine would put habitats of several species at risk, including the Greater Sage Grouse.
The visitor experience at Bryce Canyon will also be affected by the mine’s expansion. People visit the national park to enjoy the clear views and natural sounds. I would suggest visiting the park now and savoring every moment of it, as those untouched views may disappear in the very near future.
While you’re in Utah, make sure you visit the Grand Staircase, too. The Trump administration has cut large swaths of protected lands in the area, including key areas that have been deemed “one of the best and most continuous records of Late Cretaceous terrestrial life in the world.”
The Grand Staircase is a hotspot for paleontologists. Since 2000, they have discovered fossils over 75 million years old. Quite a few dinosaurs have been discovered at the monument, but the future of discoveries is up in the air, as much of these areas have been removed from the monument designation. As a visitor, now is your chance to see the Grand Staircase in its pristine form – before it’s adulterated by mining operations. You never know, you may discover a dinosaur fossil.
Earlier in September, an auction in Utah sold 10 miles of Canyonlands national park. This was in addition to tracts of land near the Glen Canyon recreation area. Rule changes have allowed these auctions to take place with “little regard for public input,” even though they are public lands being leased.
For the foreseeable future, the U.S. will continue to wage war on the environment and its protected lands. Regardless of your political views, anyone interested in seeing the U.S.’s national parks and monuments in their pristine state should do it now. Who knows what they will look like in the next few years.