Today the president signed an executive order instructing the Department of Interior to review all national monument designations since 1996, including the Carrizo Plain National Monument adjacent to the Los Padres National Forest in San Luis Obispo County. The Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, said that he will consider whether up to 40 national monuments should be “rescinded, resized, or modified.”
The executive order, which will focus on national monuments at least 100,000 acres in size on both land and water, is likely due to the designation of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which President Obama designated in December, 2016 before he left office. Anti-public lands politicians and pundits have relentlessly attacked the establishment of Bears Ears since December of last year and wish to see the designation undone. The review could have lasting impacts on other national monuments and the way future monuments are designated.
Of the 10 national monuments found in California, seven would be subjected to this review, including our very own Carrizo Plain National Monument. President Clinton established this 206,000 acre monument protecting the largest intact grassland in California and large swaths of the Caliente and Temblor Ranges in 2001 before he left office. The Carrizo Plain is home to one of the largest concentrations of rare plants and animals in all of California, including the San Joaquin kit fox, burrowing owl, giant kangaroo rat, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and San Joaquin antelope squirrel. The area is an especially popular destination during spring wildflower season when it bursts into fields of yellow, orange, and purple as far as the eye can see.
Secretary Zinke will have 120 days to report back to the White House about the review. The Trump administration says that the review will be used to recommend changes to the Antiquities Act of 1906 — the legislation that gives the president the ability to designate national monument — to Congress who can make changes to the existing law with new legislation.
ForestWatch is monitoring the administration’s decisions that affect public lands along the central coast. We will oppose any legislation that aims to diminish the ability of a president to designate national monuments. We also plan to fight any effort to reduce or rescind the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Continue to check our website for updates about this and other issues affecting our public lands.
Today’s Executive Order is an attack on public lands and an affront to millions of Americans who live, work, and play in these spectacular landscapes. We stand ready to defend the Carrizo Plain National Monument from any misguided efforts that would make these lands more vulnerable to development.