Tag Archives: national monuments

Speak up for Marine Monuments

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts national monument, one of our country’s most special places, remains at risk of cuts to its protections. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended that President Trump alter the way several national monuments are managed, including the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the New England coast – the only marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean. The recommendation to reduce the size or protections of ten monuments nationwide was made despite a public comment period during which, according to Secretary Zinke’s report, “comments received were overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining existing monuments.”

The mytilus seamount, part of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, is home to a diverse array of corals. Photo credit: NOAA

Please remind our US Senators and Representatives to voice their opposition to this decision. Ask them to tell President Trump that cutting protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts is unacceptable. Changes in the monument’s protections could put endangered whales, deep-sea corals, and other rare marine life at risk.

These proposed changes also come at a time when our offshore areas are already threatened by a recent federal proposal to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.


Help Public Lands Stay Protected

Legislation that could remove federal protection from Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge is on the move again, heading for a mark-up by the House Natural Resources Committee tomorrow. The legislation filed by Massachusetts Congressman Bill Keating, H.R.1157, was filed on behalf of the Town of Chatham, and is intended to settle a dispute over the management of nearly 4,000 acres of submerged lands and waters within Monomoy.

The Refuge is comprised of a series of dynamic barrier beaches and islands that are constantly reshaped by wind and waves. Federal and local officials have traditionally worked together to preserve this area, but last year the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released a proposed management plan that implied they had authority to manage thousands of acres of water, and the fisheries within them, beyond the low tide mark into Nantucket Sound.

The Service cited a map from the Refuge’s establishment in 1944 that they said included this additional area as within the Refuge boundary. But state and local officials argued that the federally-managed portion was only intended to include any land area that might build up above the mean low tide mark (through sand accretion, for instance), not the land underneath or waters beyond it.

A scene from Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham

H.R.1157 makes the statement that the USFWS never had authority over the submerged lands in question. If passed, the bill would allow state and town to officials to continue managing the area.

As we’ve shared before, we are concerned that this bill could set a dangerous precedent for stripping federal protections for public lands and waters across the country, at a time when we are already seeing an assault on our national monuments, like the recent reductions in size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah. This kind of legislation could create a dangerous opportunity for unfriendly amendments or future legislation by others to weaken federal control over protected land.

Instead of passing H.R.1157, we encourage all stakeholders to continue working towards a collaborative solution for managing this area that both serves local needs and preserves it as part of the Refuge System.

Mass Audubon is signing onto a letter to our congressional delegation urging them to reject the bill, and you can help too. Contact your congressperson and urge them not to pass H.R.1157. Let them know we can’t afford to remove federal protections from our public lands, and that we need to preserve the boundaries, protection, and integrity of our national monuments.

Add Your Voice to Protection of our National Monuments

Add your input to help protect the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. Let the US Department of the Interior know that you fully support this extraordinary place’s designation as a National Monument, and ask Secretary Zinke not to modify its boundaries, management, or allowed uses. The comment deadline is today, July 10. 

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is home to our region’s most dramatic ocean features. The area encompasses the only seamounts (extinct underwater volcanoes) in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean as well as canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon. Scientists have shown it is a hot-spot for wide range and a high number of sensitive species, including 1,000 year old deep-sea coral communities and endangered whales and sea turtles. Mass Audubon also signed onto a letter to the Massachusetts congressional delegation expressing our concern about the Trump Administration’s Executive Order calling for the review of this and two dozen other National Monuments.