New Report on Threatened National Monuments Highlights Wide Public Support, Economic Benefits

For Immediate Release

New Report on Threatened National Monuments Highlights Wide Public Support, Economic Benefits

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts and Katahdin Woods and Waters at Risk, Along with Benefits They Yield for New England Economy

WASHINGTON - A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council highlights the tremendous economic and environmental benefits of some two dozen American parklands and waters. There is robust public support for protecting these national monuments.  In the coming weeks, however, the Trump administration could attempt to remove protections for these public lands and waters, and open them to oil, gas, mineral or other resource extraction.

In New England, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine could be dramatically reduced or revoked.  Katahdin’s untouched landscape is rich in biodiversity and has more than 30 miles of pristine rivers and streams, along with spectacular views of Maine’s highest peak.  In a poll, seventy-two percent of Maine residents surveyed backed Katahdin’s designation.  The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts is a spectacular underwater seascape with ancient corals, dramatic canyons and underwater mountains that provides habitat to more than 1,000 species, including sea turtles, Atlantic puffins and the endangered sperm whale.  In a poll, over three quarters of Massachusetts and Rhode Island residents surveyed supported permanent protection for unique deep-sea canyons, extinct volcanoes, and deep-water corals such as those found in the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts area.

If these areas are opened up to private industry, the local economies have a lot to lose.  Protecting the Canyons and Seamounts is important to ocean tourism and recreation, which support 170,000 jobs and $7.4 billion in economic activity in coastal New England.  In communities near Katahdin, real estate and business investments have picked up since its designation last year.  And the number of visitors has already surpassed the population of many of the small towns near its borders, bringing tourism revenue to the region. 

This report highlights how these special places help support jobs and pump revenue into local communities around the country. Our national parks, monuments and other Department of Interior sites contribute to an $887 billion a year outdoor recreation industry that supports 7.6 million jobs. And there’s a direct benefit to local economies.  Carrizo Plain National Monument in California, for example, was designated in 2001.  Jobs in local communities grew 28 percent by 2015, and real personal income rose 55 percent.

“These breathtaking places belong to you and me,” said Rhea Suh, NRDC president.  “Millions of Americans have urged the government to protect them.  They are not mere pieces of real estate the Trump Administration can sacrifice to industrial ruin.” 

In an unprecedented move, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke launched the review of 27 national monuments in May following an executive order by President Trump.  The administration invited public input, and in more than 2.7 million public comments, Americans have urged the Trump Administration to protect these national monuments. 

“Our national monuments remind us what we share as a country, who we are as a people, and what we as Americans value enough to protect and conserve,” said Rhea Suh.  “Protecting each of these treasures is a promise we’ve made to our children—and a promise we’re going to keep.  If this administration tries to violate that, we’ll hold the president to account in the court of public opinion, and in our courts of law.”

NRDC’s report, “America’s Monuments: Worth the Fight” can be found here.

NRDC’s interactive story map on the national monuments under threat can be found here.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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