National Monuments: Defending Arizona's Wildlands

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National Monuments: Defending Arizona's Wildlands
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Zach Bright

Illegal attempts to downsize Arizona's national monuments

Arizona’s national monuments protect iconic desert wildlands full of cactus-studded scenery, captivating wildlife and fascinating remnants of human history that you won't find elsewhere.

But three of Arizona’s national monuments are facing threats to their very existence. Ironwood Forest National Monument, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and Sonoran Desert National Monument represent some of the best that Arizona’s wildlands have to offer. But despite the tremendous value of these places, the Trump administration has taken action to potentially reduce their protection.   

These monuments protect cultural and natural resources and support native species, local recreational opportunities and local economies. They are well worth fighting for.

Why these places matter

In Ironwood Forest National Monument, ancient ironwood trees dot the landscape where bighorn sheep roam and breed. At Vermilion Cliffs, treasured archaeological sites coexist with ancient trails. Saguaro cactus forests in Sonoran Desert National Monument are a wild treasure, and rock art is a reminder of ancient cultures. These lands provide habitat and connectivity to the state’s native species while preserving the lands for future generations.

Ecologically important trees
The desert ironwood trees in Ironwood Forest National Monument are ecologically important for the region.
Dramatic rock formations
Vermilion Cliffs boasts wild and rugged terrain.
Historic trails
Sonoran Desert National Monument overlaps with historic crossroads, including Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

The threat

In April 2017, President Trump ordered an unprecedented “review” of more than 25 national monuments, including Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs, Sonoran Desert and Ironwood Forest national monuments. The ultimate goal of the review was to reduce boundaries and protections for certain national monuments so that mining, drilling and logging companies could gain access to protected lands.

Final recommendations have yet to be made for Arizona’s monuments, but the threats include size reductions to accommodate mining, widespread off-road vehicle use and recreational target shooting that threatens public safety and damages plants and archaeological sites.

We continue to support permanent protective designations within these monuments and are working to ensure responsible recreation that is compatible with the reason the monuments were created.

What we're doing

  1. Defending monuments in court

    We believe the Trump administration’s actions are illegal. For that reason, we are arguing against the monument review in court and standing up to attacks on the law that is used to create monuments.

  2. Telling the full story

    The public does not support the Trump administration's attacks on our monuments. We’re amplifying the voices of local residents and national supporters to ensure policy makers hear what Americans want for their monuments.

  3. Influencing lawmakers

    We have engaged in a robust campaign to persuade members of Congress to defend our national monuments through legislative action.

What you can do
Tell your lawmakers to protect Arizona’s national monuments. Sign up for WildAlert emails to make your voice heard.