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10 National Monuments at Risk Under Trump's Executive Order

The president's executive order threatens the status of 27 established national monuments.

U.S. News & World Report

10 National Monuments at Risk Under Trump's Executive Order

Bears Ears National Monument, Valley of the Gods.

Protected public lands showcasing the country's rich national heritage and ecological diversity are under review.(Getty Images).

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April that called for the U.S. Department of the Interior to reexamine the designation of 27 national monuments. Many of these treasured places house archeaological splendors and extraordinary flora and fauna. Without the official national monument designation, these cherished sites across the United States could be subject to cattle grazing, logging and drilling, according to #27 Monuments project, headed by journalist and filmmaker Brent Rose, who wants to educate the public about what's going on and to drive people to the Department of the Inerior's comments page to voice their concerns before the fast approaching July 10 deadline. Rose is attempting to visit as many of the sites in the U.S. as possible and document the journey on Instagram.

With that in mind, maybe it's time to put some of these 27 monuments on your summer travel bucket list. Here's a look at 10 of the national monuments at risk.

Bears Ears National Monument, Utah

Visitors from around the globe flock to Bear Ears National Monument for its spectacular scenery and outdoor recreation. Here, you can enjoy hiking, camping, rock climbing, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, paddling and more active pursuits. What's more, it is a sacred landscape with more than 100,000 Native American cultural sites.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument boasts well-preserved dinosaur fossils from the late Cretaceous Period, and where you'll find more than 20,000 archaeological sites. Its size, resources and remote character provide extraordinary opportunities for geologists, paleontologists, archaeologists, historians and biologists in scientific research, education and exploration, according to Nicole Gentile, deputy director for the Public Lands Team at the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan policy institute.

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Oregon

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is recognized as one of the most biologically diverse areas in the western U.S, and was described by Emily Diamond-Falk, senior associate, communications, U.S. Public Lands for the Pew Charitable Trusts, as an "ecological wonder…whose survival in this region depends upon its continued ecological integrity." Even with the recent expansion, the monument is still smaller than scientists deemed necessary to fully protect its many biological treasures. Whether hiking the legendary Pacific Crest Trail, fishing in the area's clean waters or taking in the views on horseback, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is treasured by the local community and visitors alike. Plus, the monument also offers an important resource for the local economy. From 2001 (a year after the monument was designated) to 2015, the population grew by 16 percent and jobs grew by 14 percent.

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, New England

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts is home to many diverse wildlife species. Scientists have shown it is a hot spot for endangered whales, puffins and fragile, slow-growing corals. Unfortunately, the extraordinary animals and ecosystems in this area are vulnerable to human activity. “Fishing gear can damage or destroy these slow-growing corals and deep-sea animals, and scientists have found evidence in the area of damage fishing gear can cause," Diamond-Falk says.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine

The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument encompasses lands are a natural and cultural wonder designed to preserve an example of northeastern Appalachian woodlands with awe-inspiring scenery and a rich history of the Wabanaki people and the nation's logging industry. Historic figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, John James Audubon and Henry David Thoreau walked these lands and were affected by their sweeping beauty, solitude and biodiversity. Objects of historic and scientific interest can be found across the landscape, and the monument will ensure world-class opportunities for outdoor recreation, such as hiking, paddling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hunting and snowmobiling. "The 87,500 acres of the monument represent less than 0.4 percent of the land in Maine, and less than one percent of the largely undeveloped 10 million-acres area known as Maine's North Woods, yet the monument was designed to be large enough to help preserve a piece of the North Woods for all Americans to enjoy," Diamond-Falk says.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, New Mexico

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument preserves key areas of American and New Mexican history, including the petroglyph-lined canyons of the Sierra de las Uvas Mountains. The national monument also includes landmarks along the Camino Real, 22 miles of the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail, Billy the Kid's Outlaw Rock and training sites for the Apollo Space Program and World War II bomber pilots and crews.

Río Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico

The Río Grande del Norte National Monument supports traditional land uses including hunting, wood gathering and grazing. It is also an outdoor lover's paradise, and people from near and far come here to hike, bike, raft and enjoy other recreational pastimes. Thanks to its abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, in the first year after designation, there was a 40 percent increase in visitors. "People and businesses located around national monuments like the Río Grande del Norte National Monument typically reap the benefits of protection. In fact, a recent Headwaters Economics analysis of communities in Taos County found local economies had grown, with per capita income increasing as much as 27 percent," Diamond-Falk says.

Basin and Range National Monument, Nevada

Located in eastern Nevada, Basin and Range is home to prehistoric and pioneer artifacts, along with a unique variety of Mojave, Sonoran and Great Basin vegetation communities and a habitat for at least two dozen threatened and sensitive wildlife species. Plus, the area also features bragging rights for its White River Catseye, a plant species found nowhere outside of Nevada. What's more, the area was home to the Numic-speaking ancestors of the Southern Paiute and Western Shoshone, and includes prehistoric petroglyphs and rock shelters, some dating back over 13,000 years. Visitors come to Basin and Range National Monument to hike, hunt, bird, camp and enjoy off-roading on designated trails, among other pursuits.

Mojave Trails National Monument, California

The Mojave Trails National Monument links Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve, and protects archaeological and scientific wonders, and an important bighorn sheep and desert tortoise habitat. It also features the longest undeveloped stretch of historic Route 66, a significant cultural landmark of the American West. Other natural treasures include Amboy Crater, North America's youngest volcano, the 550 million-year-old trilobite fossil beds of the Marble Mountains and the Cady Mountains, one of the best areas in the Mojave to spot bighorn sheep.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado

The culturally rich Canyons of the Ancients Monuments offers a wide range of archaeological sites. Come for the Ancestral Puebloan history and stay for the unspoiled land of Colorado's high desert. It's not everywhere that culture, history and natural beauty blend so well. This monument is perfect if you want to get away from it all and be enveloped in the quiet of the outdoors. The Lowry Pueblo is the only developed recreation site within the monument. With interpretive signs and brochures on-site, you can take a self-guided tour of a historic Ancestral Puebloan structure. Make sure to explore the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway that circles Canyons of the Ancients National Monument as well as the Anasazi Heritage Center, a nearby stop that will help shed light on the history and legend of the people who once settled the area. Chock-full of informative displays and cultural facts, the cultural center will allow you to enjoy a greater appreciation for the area's past.


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Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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