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NM Vet Signs Letter Urging Trump to Forgo Monument Revisions

New Mexico's Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is one of many national monuments that some military veterans consider places of solitude. (conservation lands.org)
New Mexico's Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is one of many national monuments that some military veterans consider places of solitude. (conservation lands.org)
January 30, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A New Mexico veteran is among hundreds who have posted a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to maintain the boundaries of monuments in places such as Arizona, Nevada and California.

Brett Myrick of Gila accompanied Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on a hike into Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument during the agency's monuments review process. Zinke had been charged with reviewing dozens of national monuments as potential sites for increased oil and gas drilling, mining and ranching.

Like Zinke, Myrick is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and says there are many ways veterans choose to serve and protect.
"Not just defending our country militarily, but also in our public lands and our freedom,” he explains. “That's part of what makes America America, right? The freedom to be able to go and be in these beautiful places, so that's important to us as well, defending that."

New Mexico's monuments escaped being reduced in size after Zinke's review. But his recommendation that Utah's Bears Ears shrink by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by 50 percent was approved by the president in December.
More than a thousand veterans signed the recent letter to the president.

Ten to 15 percent of all veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress and Myrick says public lands offer an oasis of silence that can help with healing.

"As a human being and a veteran, I feel that our public lands are very important - monuments, wilderness, all the areas that we have that, public, quiet lands are very important to me, and I feel they're important to people in the country," he says.

Trump has called the establishment of national monuments by previous administrations "federal overreach."

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM