This week, the White House announced plans to scale back two national monuments in order to allow for oil and gas drilling, sparking widespread protests from environmental groups and Utah’s native tribes. A consequence of the national monuments review introduced earlier this year, this move reveals the future of many monuments established by Trump’s Democratic predecessors is uncertain. Before they disappear, here are 20 national monuments to see now in the United States.
One of two monuments presently under attack, Bears Ears is a 1.35 million-acre region of red rock canyons in Utah. Designated by President Barack Obama in 2016, the monument is home to one of the largest collections of tribal artifacts in the west. Past government efforts to shrink the monument have been met with protest by several tribal territories in the Utah area, including the Navajo Nation.
The second monument slated for downsizing, Grand Staircase-Escalante, comprises 1.7 million acres of multi-hued stair steps in Utah. After a controversial-yet-successful designation by President Bill Clinton in 1996, Trump’s move to cut the monument by over 800,000 acres places long-protected tribal archeological sites at risk.
Expanding upon a Congress-established 350,000-acre area along America’s famous Route 66, President Obama created Mojave Trails National Monument in 2016. Today, the monument comprises 1.6 million acres of sand dunes, ancient lava flows, and mountain ranges.
Designated in 2015 by President Obama, Basin and Range National Monument comprises 704,000 acres in southeastern Nevada. It encompasses the Great Basin Desert and protects some prehistoric rock art dating back 4,000 years.
Established in 2016 by President Obama, Gold Butte is a near-300,000-acre region of red sandstone, verdant mountains, and more diverse landscape features that make for a hospitable environment for large animals, such as mountain lions and bighorn sheep.
Designated in 2000 by President Clinton and enlarged by President Obama just this January, Cascade-Siskiyou is a 170,409-acre space straddling the Oregon-California border. A diverse array of animal species find protected habitats here, including the endangered shortnose sucker, the threatened spotted owl, and the endangered Lost River sucker.
Comprising 330,780 acres in northern California, Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument encompasses everything from Pacific Ocean beaches to 7,000-foot mountains in the Inner Coastal Range. In addition to serving as a winter habitat for bald eagles, the monument, which was created in 2015 by President Obama, protects several ancient Native American settlement sites.
First designated in 2009 by President George W. Bush, Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was enlarged to its current size of 490,000-square-miles in 2014 by President Obama. Under review by Trump’s administration, the largest marine conservation area in the world, providing protection for animals and fish such as turtles and dolphins, could be dissolved to allow for commercial fishing.
Created in 2009 by President George W. Bush, Rose Atoll Marine National Monument encompasses 13,400-square-miles of South Pacific Ocean. The monument protects an array of rare and endangered animals and seabirds, including nesting turtles and whales.
Established in 2014 by President Obama, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument includes 496,330 acres of southern New Mexico landscape. At the time of its designation, President Obama specifically noted the monument’s ‘evidence of the Native peoples of the area’ as an impetus for the order.
The 3.14-million-acre Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is home to an array of coral, sponges, and anemones that create a foundation on which underwater ecosystems depend. Designated in 2016 by President Obama, the monument is at risk of being altered to enable commercial fishing.
Designated in 2001 by President Clinton, the 204,000-acre Carrizo Plain National Monument holds particular cultural significance for Native Americans. Featuring one of Southern California’s largest wetlands and ample seasonal wildflowers, the monument is a vestige of the grassy plain that covered the area two centuries before settlers arrived.
Over the past 100 years, public and private entities have worked to protect the larger northeastern landscape where this monument lies. Designated in 2016 by President Obama, the 87,500-acre Katahdin Woods and Waters and its forests, streams, and rivers are at risk of destruction under Trump’s administration in order to accommodate the lumber industry.
Created in 2013 by President Obama, Río Grande del Norte National Monument is a 242,555-acre region of New Mexico’s Río Grande River Gorge. In addition to its striking geographical features and population of migratory birds, the monument protects multiple collections of tribal artifacts.
Created in 2000 by President Clinton in Arizona, Vermillion Cliffs encompasses 294,000 acres of multi-colored rock formations rivaling even its grandest of neighbors, the Grand Canyon.
Designated in 2006 by President Bush and augmented in 2016 by President Obama, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is now the largest protected area in the world. Despite being hailed by scientists and environmentalists as crucial to the global fight against climate change, the monument is particularly vulnerable to destruction due to its prohibition of oil and gas drilling and commercial fishing.
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument provides 30 percent of the drinking water and 70 percent of the open space for Southern California’s Los Angeles Basin population, which is approximately 15 million people. Created in 2014 by President Obama, the 342,177-acre space is currently facing review by Trump’s administration.
Designated in 2000 by President Clinton, Giant Sequoia National Monument is a 328,000-acre area in central California protecting 33 groves of sequoia, the largest tree in the world.
Sonoran Desert National Monument occupies 486,400 acres of one of only four major deserts in North America. Designated in 2001 by President Clinton, the monument reflects the surprising biological diversity of the Sonoran Desert.
Created in 2000 by President Clinton in Arizona, Ironwood Forest National Monument is a 129,000-acre area in the Silver Bell Mountains. Home to various cultural and historical sites dating back around 5,000 years, the monument is best known for protecting one of the densest forests of ironwood trees, which can live for up to 800 years.