I’m glad that there has been a lot of attention on the Trump administration’s controversial decision to look into undoing national monument designations from the past two decades. I’m even more glad that Sen. Angus King, Sen. Susan Collins, and other leaders in the region are making it clear that undoing the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument would be a big mistake. I recently moved to Fayette, and one of the reasons I wanted to live in Maine was to have better access to outdoor areas like the new monument.

What may not be clear is how extreme and unprecedented the Trump administration’s approach is. In more than 100 years, presidents from both parties have created monuments to protect historical sites and outdoor areas. No president has ever tried to undo one, and yet now President Donald Trump is considering doing just that.

The reason this is so extreme is, in part, because of the motivations. Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke have said that they want to ensure that monuments are open to multiple uses. The thing is, monuments already are open to multiple uses, including ranching, hunting, fishing, traditional tribal use, mountain biking, and more. The only uses that are consistently and expressly prohibited are new oil and gas drilling and mining. The Trump administration seems most interested in prioritizing exactly those uses, in which case all of the other ways that people enjoy these lands would be threatened or eliminated outright.

In short, Trump and Zinke are considering kicking Americans off our land and removing protections for our outdoors so that billionaires in the oil and gas and mining industries can do whatever they want, wherever they want. This is extreme and un-American, and any plans to undo a single monument should be abandoned immediately.

Michael Degnan

Fayette