My grandfather, Wallace Barron, served as a game warden in northern Maine for 30 years. He also wrote a weekly column on the wonders of the outdoors for the now-defunct Somerset Journal. He was a conservationist — not because it was trendy, but because it was simply the right way to live. He had a strong love, respect and reverence for the land — and passed that down to his children and grandchildren.

Wallace Barron was also a Republican.

The Republican Party has a long and proud tradition of creating and protecting public lands. Unfortunately, it’s become fashionable in certain Republican circles to push for the dismantling of our federal public lands, a position that is at odds with our party’s history. Indeed, it was a Republican president — Teddy Roosevelt — who first created the United States Forest Service, in addition to establishing 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks, and 18 national monuments during his presidency.

Like my grandfather, I am a proud conservationist and a proud Republican. Too often, the media and opportunistic politicians try to make public lands issues into partisan issues. They aren’t.

Not only am I a proud conservationist and Republican, I was and am an enthusiastic supporter of Donald Trump. There are many reasons why I support President Trump, among them has been his willingness to buck the modern GOP establishment and speak out in favor of protecting our public lands.

As a candidate, Trump made it clear that he would oppose efforts by the think tankers and establishment elites in Washington to transfer public lands to the states and privatize our park system.


During the campaign, Trump made this pledge: “We have to be great stewards of this land. This land is magnificent land. And we have to be great stewards of this land.”

Trump also made it clear that he would oppose efforts to return public lands to the states, saying, “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do with it.”

Trump followed that campaign talk with an inspired pick for secretary of the Department of the Interior, former Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Montana, an outspoken supporter of public lands and, in his own words, an “unapologetic admirer of Teddy Roosevelt.”

At the end of April, however, President Trump issued an executive order that instructed the secretary to conduct a review of all presidential designations or expansions of national monuments of 100,000 acres or more made since Jan. 1, 1996.

At jeopardy, as a result of this executive order, is the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument here in Maine — along with dozens of other irreplaceable national monuments across the country.

I understand that people of good faith can and do disagree about the Katahdin monument. But this executive order is not how the fate of Katahdin should be decided.


The order was made at the urging of a handful of members of Congress who are unhappy with certain national monument designations, and a cabal of think-tank elitists and corporate interests who don’t understand the value of public lands to average Americans.

The order is an unnecessary distraction. President Trump should stay focused on the big challenges facing our country — defeating radical Islamic terrorism, stopping the tide of illegal immigration, repealing Obamacare and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

If a member of Congress is unhappy with a designation or expansion of a national monument, there is an existing remedy — action by Congress. If a member of Congress is unhappy with the authority given to the President to establish national monuments, then Congress can take action there as well by amending or repealing the Antiquities Act. President Trump’s agenda shouldn’t be hijacked by a member of Congress who is unable to pass his own legislation.

President Trump promised to protect and defend our public lands and promised to break the power of the establishment — not be beholden to it. He can do both by rejecting this unnecessary effort to chip away at our public lands.

Chris Barron, who was born in Waterville, is a conservative strategist in Washington, D.C., and was the organizer of LGBT for Trump.

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