Resistance: Public Lands Defense in the Age of Trump

2017 marked the beginning of a dangerous new era for anti-public lands behavior in the federal government. CalWild and its partners are united in facing the increasing number of threats coming from Congress and the Trump administration, and we’ll be tracking our resistance to the policies that pose the greatest threat to California’s public lands here.

We are also monitoring progress of a number of lower priority threats, which you can view here. These bills are currently considered a lower priority because they have not had any recent movement (not because they would be less of a threat if they were enacted).

President Trump has staffed his cabinet with pro-industry bureaucrats and executives from powerful corporations like ExxonMobil, avidly neglecting the health of our natural resources and our local communities in the process. These appointments will make our job that much harder in the coming years, as well as making it that much more important that we engage everyone who is opposed to them and the policies they stand for.

Luckily, we know that the majority of Americans support public lands and wilderness areas, and that grassroots activism can generate real change at every level, even against the toughest odds.

Bad Bill Tracker: High Priority

Bill Text

This bill is very similar to a bill that Rep. Johnson introduced in the previous Congress.  This bill would amend the Wilderness Act to allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection to do the following (and more) within a wilderness area for the broad purpose of “securing the international land borders of the United States”: construct and maintain roads and physical barriers; conduct aircraft landings and takeoffs; and use motor vehicles, motorboats, and motorized equipment.

The bill says that these activities “shall be carried out in a manner that, to the greatest extent possible, protects the wilderness character of the area” which is vague and subjective and completely unenforceable, thus leaving wilderness at the mercy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Johnson (LA)

– Referred to Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands 2/6/19

– Referred to Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation and Operations 2/4/19

– Introduced and referred to Committees on Natural Resources and Homeland Security 1/16/19

Executive Orders & Other Threats


– 3/22/18: Comments deadline. 

– 2/26/18: Public scoping meetings begin in Lone Pine. Attendance is great throughout, with over 100 supporters showing up in Joshua Tree alone.

– 2/21/18: CalWild leads the charge to collect public comments before the March 22nd deadline through our Action Alert.

– February 2018: CalWild strategies with our desert coalition partners to engage with supports on the public comment process planned for later this month and early March. Assistant Policy Director Linda Castro publishes a piece on CalWild and our partners Friends of the Inyo and Conservation Lands Foundation secure a grant from the Rose Foundation to assist with awareness and collecting comments.

– 2/2/18: Notice of Intent (NOI) from the Department of the Interior to solicit public comments and identify issues for a plan amendment to the DRECP.

Executive Order Text

The administration and Congress have been increasingly interested in rescinding recent National Monument designations, specifically those of Bears Ears (UT), Katahdin Woods and Waters (ME), and Cascade-Siskiyou (OR/CA) – the latter of which CalWild helped expand in President Obama’s final week in office. California’s most recent Monuments, including Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, San Gabriel Mountains, Cascade-Siskiyou, and Berryessa-Snow Mountain, are vulnerable to any revocation or reduction attempts. Additionally, Carrizo Plain and Giant Sequoia also face review.

No President has ever revoked a National Monument before, and legal experts are confident that even an attempt is illegal if not foolhardy, time-consuming, and most certainly litigious and a drain of public resources.


– 12/4/17: President Trump announced his intention to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah by 85% and 50% respectively. These reductions will, in the end, reduce the land protected under the designations by President Clinton (in the case of Grand Staircase-Escalante) and President Obama (for Bears Ears) by a collective two million acres. While we anticipated the action, the President’s ultimate decision to move forward marked one of the greatest anti-conservationist decisions by any administration in history.

– 9/18/17: A leak reported by the Wall Street Journal this weekend revealed Interior Ryan Zinke’s recommendations to President Trump to reduce protections and drastically alter boundaries on at least six national monuments across the country, including the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument shared by California and Oregon. See our Press Release.

– 8/24/17: Expected recommendations from Secretary Zinke never come. Silence from the Trump administration after Zinke’s report is delivered to the President but not made public.

– 8/22/17: About 100 people rally in Bakersfield to show support for the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s local office closes in anticipation of the event.

– 8/1/17: CalWild targets Rep. Kevin McCarthy in an Action Alert geared towards gaining his support to retain Giant Sequoia National Monument’s current boundaries.

– 7/18/17: Executive Director Chris Morrill contributes a blog wrapping up the public comment process; 2.7 million comments received overall nationally, with over 99% in favor of maintaining or expanding our National Monuments!

– 7/10/17: Public comment process closed. CalWild supporters submitted 1,621 comments.

– 6/30/17: Despite our best attempts, Tulare County Board of Supervisors vote 3-2 to send a letter to Ryan Zinke asking for a reduction to the Giant Sequoia National Monument. On the same day, he Congressional Western Caucus also sent a letter to Zinke, but asked for 10 of the monuments to be eliminated altogether (CalWild responded with an Action Alert targeting the CA representatives who signed on). A few days later, the Kern County Board of Supervisors, who were expected to write a similar letter, decided to instead ask Zinke for better funding and management of their National Monument – all because of a CalWild-assisted campaign of public outcry.

– 6/26/17: Senior Policy Director Ryan Henson was on KPFA explaining threats to the Giant Sequoia National Monument outlined here.

– 6/12/17: Secretary Zinke recommended that Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be shrunk but did not quantify the new proposed size. This is an alarming beginning to the recommendation process and could set a precedent for further recommendations.

– 6/11/17: During the public comment process, CalWild supporters submitted 1,621 comments to the DOI amongst the 2.7 million comments received in total (98% of the those were in support of maintaining or expanding National Monuments across the country)- 6/12/17: Secretary Zinke announces that the DOI will not seek changes to the Hanford Reach and Craters of the Moon monuments in Washington and Idaho, underscoring a likely attempt to change the remaining 25 monuments under review in the coming weeks. Announced a mere 2 days after the comments session was closed – hardly enough time to read a fraction of that 2.7 million comments – this move reveals just how arbitrary the decision-making is at the current DOI.


– May-July 2017: Events held throughout California in support of our 7 Monuments under threat while CalWild and its partners spread our action alerts generating comments. See a blog about the successful passage of the state resolution AJR15 here.

– 5/3/17: Rep. Judy Chu introduced legislation to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, a week after President Donald Trump ordered the review of the Monument and six others in California. Take action on this here.

– 4/26/17: Thanks to our D.C. ears and eyes, we were alerted to this with enough time to coordinate in a big way with our allies across California and the country, sending a loud message to D.C. that the public does not support this review.

Good Bill Tracker

House Bill Text

Senate Bill Text

This bill amends the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 to, among other things:
– establish or designate wilderness areas, a special management area, off-highway vehicle recreation areas, and a national scenic area;
– release specified wilderness study areas;
– adjust national park and preserve boundaries; and
– specify land withdrawals and conveyances.

Specified federal land shall be taken into trust for the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe. Lands and interests in land, including improvements, outside the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park in California may be acquired for the purpose of operating a visitor center.

The bill makes amendments to the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 regarding the California State School lands.

The bill amends the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate specified segments of rivers and creeks as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

The bill establishes the Renewable Energy Resource Conservation Fund for use in regions impacted by the development of wind or solar energy.

House Sponsors
Cook (CA), Ruiz (CA), Vargas (CA), Aguilar (CA)

House Movement
– Introduced in House 1/9/19

Senate Sponsors
Feinstein (CA), Harris (CA)

Senate Movement
– Introduced in Senate 1/9/19

House Bill Text

Senate Bill Text

Would  provide permanent protection for all national monuments still under “review” including the 7 California national monuments included in that review and would establish a National Monument Enhancement Fund.  Would also make it clear that only Congress can reduce or eliminate national monuments that are designated by presidential proclamations under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

House Sponsors

Haaland (NM), Gallego (AZ), Lujan (NM), Cohen (TN), Sires (NJ), Larsen (WA), McNerney (CA), Serrano (NY), Peters (CA), Roybal-Allard (CA), Espaillat (NY), Moore (WI), Castor (FL), Smith (WA), Huffman CA), Hill (CA), Maloney (NY), Barragan (CA), Sewell (AL), Gomez (CA), Suozzi (NY), Lipinski (IL), Beyer (VA), Aguilar (CA), Higgins (NY), Garamendi (CA), Norton (DC), Panetta (CA), Titus (NV), Meng (NY), DeGette (CO), Bonamici (OR), Napolitano (CA), Torres (CA), Welch (VT), Wilson (FL), Blumenauer (OR), Scott (GA), Schakowsky (IL),  DelBene (WA), Foster (IL), Kilmer (WA), Connolly (VA), Carbajal (CA), Cartwright (PA), Ruiz (CA), Pingree (ME), Soto (FL), Neal (MA), Clark (MA), Sanchez (CA), Mucarsel-Powell (FL), McCollum (MN), Boyle (PA), Lowenthal (CA), Neguse (CO), Porter (CA), McEachin (VA), Chu (CA), Lieu (CA), Lawrence (MI), Doyle (PA), DeSaulnier (CA), Dingell (MI), Schiff (CA), Pocan (WI), Maloney (NY), Clarke (NY), Shalala (FL), Cardenas (CA), Brownley (CA), Lee (NV), Brown (MD), Hastings (FL), Torres Small (NM), Raskin (MD), Horsford (NV), Krishnamoorthi (IL), Speier (CA), Malinowski (NJ), Luria (VA)

Senate Sponsors

Udall (NM), Hirono (HI), Duckworth (IL), Harris (CA), Cortez Masto (NV), Leahy (VT), Smith (MN), Feinstein (CA), Heinrich (NM), Gillibrand (NY), Merkley (R), Murray (WA), Baldwin (WI), Schatz (HI), Durbin (IL), Cardin (MD), Klobuchar (MN), Rosen (NV), Murphy (CT), Bennet (CO), Brown (OH)

House Movement

– Introduced and referred to Committee on Natural Resources 2/7/19

Senate Movement

– Introduced and referred to Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 2/7/19


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