April 23, 2019  
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Editorial: Trump hates national monuments; Trump creates a national monument
Editorial: Trump hates national monuments; Trump creates a national monument
Republicans have been working for years to starve our national parks of funding and to rip up many of our national monuments, including in Maine. But even they know that America’s national park areas are enormously popular visitor destinations and economic engines.

On Friday, President Trump designated 373-acre Civil War Camp Nelson in Kentucky as a national monument. Camp Nelson, located in the self-described “horse capital of the world," was a supply depot and hospital for the Union Army during the 1860s. It later served as a major recruiting center for African American troops, as well as a refuge for freed slaves. It deserves national recognition and protection. In 2013, the Obama administration proclaimed it a National Historic Landmark District.

It could be that Trump loves national monuments. Nope. Candidate Trump vowed to undo the executive actions of Prudent Obama, including national monuments. As president, Trump ordered a review of dozens of national monuments created since 1996 by every president of both parties. The Trump Administration was found to have concealed documents that show his top Interior Dept. staff wove a fake narrative that touted the benefits of extractive activities on protected public lands, including in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine, while ignoring the benefits of national monuments. Trump has drastically slashed the size of national monuments that protect treasured Native American artifacts; the largest reversal of protected areas in U.S. history. Trump is no lover of national monuments.

It could be that, with his monumental ego, Trump does not want to be left out of the long list of presidents who have used their authority under the Antiquities Act to create national monuments. Every president since 1906, save three Republicans, have designated national monuments. Nope. Trump has excoriated past presidents for creating national monuments. He has claimed that “Previous administrations have…used the law to lock up hundreds of millions of acres of land and water under strict government control.” Trump wants to be known as unlike every other president in our country’s history.

Trump's motivation is purely partisan — to help a Republican member of Congress who is in a tight race this year.

Republican U.S. Rep. Garland "Andy" Barr is in big trouble in his reelection race in Kentucky. The area is of national importance because it is one of the congressional districts that could help swing the U.S. House from R to D and Barr is running neck and neck with his Democratic challenger, Amy McGrath, a former Marine combat aviator. So, in desperation Republicans got Trump to go to Kentucky two weeks ago to endorse Barr. Barr has voted with Trump 97% of the time, so Trump owes him. Barr was caught on tape recently admitting that Trump is known to exaggerate. He had to walk back those comments just ahead of the campaign visit by Trump to shore up Barr’s sagging support.

That was not sufficient. Republicans needed more. That’s where Trump’s designation of his first national monument comes in. Trump hates national monuments. And Andy Barr is no enviro. His lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters is 2%. But with the blessing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), yesterday President Trump signed the paperwork to proclaim his only national monument.

Maybe after the November 6 elections, Trump will try to rescind the designation, but for now Americans can celebrate Camp Nelson National Monument as the 418th unit of our National Park System. Even Donald Trump sometimes does the right thing, if for the wrong reasons.

Posted on Saturday, October 27, 2018 (Archive on Saturday, November 17, 2018)
Posted by Jym St. Pierre   Contributed by Jym St. Pierre

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