Sand to Snow National Monument Keeps Protected Status

By Ayana Byrd Aug 17, 2017

As the Trump Administration continues to review national monuments and shrink their borders, one is now safe: Sand to Snow National Monument.

On Wednesday (August 16), U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that the area under federal protection will not be reduced or rescinded, reports Public News Service.

Sand to Snow is located approximately two hours from Los Angeles in the southern California desert, and former President Barack Obama designated it as a monument in February 2016. It sits on 154,000 acres and is home to more than 240 species of birds and twelve threatened and endangered wildlife species. It also contains an estimated 1,700 Native American petroglyphs.

San Bernardino County Supervisor James Ramos urged the public to help save Sand to Snow in an article in the Los Angeles Daily News last month:

The Mojave, Chemehuevi, Cahuilla, Cocopah and Quechan tribes, among others, have been the caretakers for this extraordinary landscape for centuries. Our deserts and mountains hold rock art panels, ancestral remains, sacred sites and artifacts representing the generations that have preserved this land, and their continued preservation by our government is critical for this and myriad other reasons.

Zinke’s decision was in response to an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on April 26. Zinke, as Colorlines previously reported, was directed to review the Antiquities Act. The law dates back to 1906 and, per The Washington Post, it “empowers a president to take unilateral action to protect cultural, historic or natural resources on federal land that is under threat.”

Trump disagrees with the scope of the law’s power and upon signing the executive order, he said, “The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time that we ended this abusive practice.” The order calls for establishing “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

By ending federal control of some of the land, states will be able to grant permits for farming, mining, gas or oil exploration to private interests. Said Trump: “Tremendously positive things are going to happen on that incredible land, the likes of which there is nothing more beautiful anywhere in the world.”

The executive order called for a review of the 27 locations that have been granted national monument status since 1996. Zinke’s final recommendations are due no later than August 24.