Hawaii State Senators Joins 324 State Legislators in Support of Protecting Public Lands

Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz joined 324 state legislators of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) in a bipartisan effort to call on President Trump to maintain designations of national monuments, following the president’s recent executive order calling for a review of the Antiquities Act. The move could jeopardize national monuments designated by presidents in the past two decades.

Click to read the NCEL Letter

Since being enacted, the 1906 Antiquities Act has been the subject of 157 designations of national monuments by nearly every previous president beginning with President Theodore Roosevelt, and includes such areas and places as the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Chaco Canyon, Olympic National Park, Muir Woods, and the Statue of Liberty. Presidential actions under the Antiquities Act in many instances led to subsequent congressional action to provide National Park status to these very special areas of natural and archaeological values, scientific and educational interest, and importance in our nation’s history and culture.

“Hawai‘i is home to four national monuments, including the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which is the largest contiguous fully protected conservation area in the United States. Protecting these areas is critical to ensure a legacy of natural and archaeological resources for future generations as well as building resiliency against the effects of clime change.” said Sen. Dela Cruz (Dist. 22 – Mililani Mauka, Waipi‘o Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, portion of Poamoho).

Seven other Hawai‘i state legislators signed the letter in support of protecting public lands, including Senators Karl Rhoads (Dist. 13 – Dowsett Highlands, Pu‘unui, Nu‘uanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl, Palama, Liliha, Iwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown) and Laura Thielen (Dist. 25 – Kailua, Lanikai, Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills, Maunawili, Waimanalo, Hawai‘i Kai, Portlock).

The letter initiated by Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker urges the president to work with Congress and state legislators to increase public funding for the management of all federal lands and water rather than pursuing a pathway that could lead to weakening protections for these important publicly owned areas and sites.

“National monuments hold an important place in our history and culture in the United States. No president has attempted to revoke a national monument before,” said Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of NCEL. “We urge the president to work with Congress and state legislators to increase funding for public land management and boost the surrounding local economies.”

Economic benefits also have value in outdoor recreation and tourism. According to the 2017 Outdoor Recreation Economy Report by the Outdoor Industry Association, public lands, including national monuments, national parks, and national wildlife refuges created a significant amount of economic output.

“Public support for protecting special places is strong, and many small communities increasingly depend on tourism and the growing outdoor recreation economy,” said Ranker. “The effort to eliminate or shrink national monuments risks $45 billion generated nationwide by public lands, including national monuments.”

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