After signing a petition to protect our national parks, I received a reply from Donald Trump (or his office). Here are some excerpts:
“These magnificent spaces are home to natural and historic sites that inspire our love of country and serve as a source of patriotism and pride. Visitors from around the world travel to our Nation to experience our lofty mountains, majestic waterfalls, breathtaking canyons, and peaceful forests.
“My Administration will protect these lands, and ensure all Americans have access to our national parks, as well as to other National Park Service sites, throughout the next century.
“Our parks and monuments enhance the beauty of our States and territories and bring joy to millions. We must cherish our outdoor spaces and strive to preserve them. This is why I am working to bring leaders throughout the country together, especially through public-private partnerships, to improve the management of our vitally important public lands to help clear the backlog of maintenance requirements that has built up over time. In addition, my Administration will explore ways to increase the utilization of these spaces, while maintaining their integrity and public respect for these revered landmarks.”
“As President, I am committed to keeping these lands and monuments great for our children and grandchildren.”
Here is what President Trump is actually doing to “enhance the beauty,” “cherish our outdoor spaces and strive to preserve them,” and “ensure all Americans have access to our national parks”:
- Reducing, sometimes drastically, the size of several national monuments (Bears Ears and Staircase-Escalante in Utah are the latest).
- Opening public lands to mining and drilling for oil and gas, including in the fragile National Arctic Wildlife Refuge (I suppose this is the “public-private partnership” he refers to).
- Proposing entrance fees as high as $70 at some of our most visited national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Arches and Acadia; cost of the Senior Pass for national parks and monuments from has already increased from $10 to $80.
- Loosening the rule that makes it easier for coal plants to pollute the air in national parks and other public lands.
- Reducing the budget for national parks.
Many of the President’s actions are being fought in court, so this onslaught on our national treasures may be halted, or at least reduced.
As amazing to me as his threats to our national heritage, his lies about his actions are even more astounding. But perhaps I should be used to this by now.