Before he left office in January, President Barack Obama designated numerous national monuments across the country. Under the authority originally granted to President Theodore Roosevelt by the Antiquities Act more than a century ago, sitting presidents may unilaterally designate federal lands as monuments – preserving them from activities such as development or mining. After President Donald Trump took office, he directed Interior Secretary to review all monument designations – all the way back to 1996.

Here in California, 22 areas have been designated national monuments since the Act was originally passed in 1906. Those part of Secretary Zinke’s now-concluded review include:

There are several reasons why the Trump Administration and Secretary Zinke should leave these monuments as is. First, given how the Antiquities Act is written, sitting presidents have unilateral authority to designate monuments. But that authority is essentially a one-way street. Should a succeeding administration wish to redraw boundary lines, as the Trump White House is currently proposing, it requires another enabling act of Congress to transform the president’s wishes into federal law.

Next, California has a strong, long-standing commitment to both environmental protection and stewardship of public lands. We are blessed with amazing natural beauty – from our beaches to the snow of the Sierra Nevada. Millions of people come to California each year to enjoy what Mother Nature has provided. Outdoor activities in California accounts for more than $85 billion in consumer spending and helps create nearly one million jobs. We should uphold our proud traditions for reasons of both conservation and economics.

Lastly, and most importantly, voters and citizens have consistently shown their strong and unwavering support for the protection and preservation of public lands. According to a survey conducted by Colorado College, 80% of voters in western states supported protecting existing monuments as they are today. Only 13% of voter surveyed believed the monuments’ boundaries needed adjustment.

Secretary Zinke is a product of the west. He knows the reverence with which we hold our open spaces – the beauty and grandeur found in few other places. Like the natural beauty of his home state in Montana, California’s environment too provides vistas, activities and wonder that draw millions of people from around the country and the world, support local economies, and preserve public lands for generations to come.

Late last month, Secretary Zinke delivered his recommendations to the White House. As Californians, we should let the secretary know, with our collective 38 million voices, that California’s monuments are non-negotiable, that our public lands provide enormous economic benefit to the state and enjoyment for millions of Americans. You can reach Secretary Zinke by emailing