On Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order that opened up a review of 25 national monuments, potentially setting the stage for Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to resize or even revoke their protected status. Trump decried former president Obama’s designations as a “federal land grab,” while environmentalists worry the order is a precursor to expanding coal mining and oil drilling on America’s wildlands.
Neither Zinke nor Trump has confirmed this is the case, but in a sad bit of irony, The Wilderness Society noted yesterday that the official Bureau of Land Management Flickr account has radically shifted its focus away from, well, land, and onto fossil fuel development.
The BLM page has dozens of stunning albums full of wildflowers, paleontology, endangered species, and renewable energy initiatives. And yet the recent focus now is on harmful drilling practices, at the exact moment that Trump is deregulating the EPA and now, signaling that he wants to scale back protections on national lands. It sends a message.
Here’s a snapshot of the current Flickr:
And here’s what it looked like in March:
Speaking to press on Tuesday, Zinke said he wouldn’t “predispose what the outcome” of Trump’s new executive order will be, but noted that the order was necessary because “some of these areas were put off limits for traditional uses, like farming, ranching, timber harvest, mining, oil and gas exploration, fishing, and motorized recreation.”
Millions of acres of land in areas like Arizona, Nevada, Montana and Utah could potentially be impacted. Environmental groups and tribal coalitions, along with members of the more traditionally conservative outdoors industry, are vowing to oppose changes to the national monument designations. Let’s hope the sad synchronicity between BLM Flickr account and the executive order isn’t a sign that those changes are near.