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Coloradans Head to Washington D.C. to Defend Monuments

National monuments including Canyons of the Ancients in southwest Colorado could be rescinded or reduced under a new order by President Trump. (Wikimedia Commons)
National monuments including Canyons of the Ancients in southwest Colorado could be rescinded or reduced under a new order by President Trump. (Wikimedia Commons)
June 8, 2017

CORTEZ, Colo. -- Conservationists from Colorado are joining dozens from other states in Washington D.C. this week to lobby on behalf of America's national monuments, which are currently under scrutiny after an executive order issued by President Trump.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is charged with reviewing monuments designated under the Antiquities Act since 1996, including Colorado's Canyons of the Ancients. Deborah Gangloff, CEO of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, said rescinding monuments to make room for energy production would be a blow to science.

"Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is a breathtaking landscape that contains the highest-known density of archeological sites in the entire United States,” Gangloff said.

GOP leaders urged Trump to remove or shrink national monuments designated over the past two decades, claiming federal overreach and a negative impact on local economies because of limits on energy production. New research by Headwaters Economics has found that local economies surrounding national monuments in Western states expanded after designations.

Gangloff said she plans to thank Colorado's elected delegation for supporting the preservation of Canyons of the Ancients and other monuments, but she'll also make an economic case for conservation during a broader congressional briefing and to the Department of Interior.

"Visitors to cultural and historic sites spend $800 billion a year, and that includes a $2 billion payroll,” she said. "So there's a lot of people that make their living on heritage and cultural tourism."

Thursday marks the 111th anniversary of the signing of the Antiquities Act, which has been used by presidents from both parties to establish national monuments.

The American public has until July 10 to contribute comments at Regulations.gov.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO