Portola Pilot

Staircase to Destruction

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Staircase to Destruction

Jordan Lee, Photo Editor

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President Donald Trump recently announced his decision to drastically reduce the size of two monuments in Utah: the Bears Ears and Grand-Escalante Staircase National Monuments, as reported by the Washington Post. The desert landscapes are filled with awe-inspiring gulches, buttes, rock formations, and ancient ruins. Trump’s ignorance towards our precious nature is infuriating and unacceptable.

According to the New York Times, Trump explained that certain geographical features in the original monument “are not unique to the monument” or “are not of significant scientific or historic interest.” Others, he notes, are “already protected in other ways.”

Trump’s decision will allow fuel and coal mining companies to reap the monument’s natural resources, at the expense of the thriving fauna, and other geological wonders in the area.

“All of the wilderness we have left is precious, more so than any mineral, money or resource that may be made from it. Wilderness can’t be replaced once its gone, so its value is incomparable,” professional landscape photographer Eric Bennett said.

Former President Barack Obama designated Bears Ears as a national monument in 2016 in order to prevent it from being exploited. Trump wishes to reopen mining operations within the monument and, in doing so, will take away land from natives living within the monument’s boundaries.

“I feel the government should treat the people in the land fairly and equally because America’s diverse culture depends on these Native Americans. These monuments represent a part of them,” sophomore Xian Lun Zeng said.

The loss of these two monuments is a tragic decision by the government; however there are ways for students and nature lovers to stand up against this issue.

“One of the best ways is to make people fall in love with the place and put a face to the name. This is why I am sharing my photography of the area, so people know its more than just ‘tumbleweeds’ and dirt. I think this is how we can get the most people to become advocates for the area and come together to protect it and fight these new bills being passed,” Bennett said.

Our national monuments represent the magnificent landscapes America has to offer, as well as the native cultures living within them. The natural world is worth more than any sum of money imaginable, and it should be the number one goal to preserve it.

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Staircase to Destruction