Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is the governor of Montana.
It’s past time that folks in the West extended an invitation to the president to get outdoors. A little time in the backcountry has a way of helping us remember who we are and where we come from. It’s hard to spend time on our state’s public lands without quickly learning some humility, and it’s equally hard to return to your day job without being inspired by all we have in common.
Where I come from, 18 holes might be relaxing, but it’s not the same as sleeping under the stars, watching a herd of elk crest a hill at 5:30 in the morning or feeling the tug of a trout from a blue-ribbon river on your line. If President Trump had grown up the way so many of us have, he might feel differently about pulling the rug out from under so many people whose livelihoods depend on our access to public lands.
Trump’s decision to substantially shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah reveals how at the most basic level he and his administration misunderstand what it means to preserve and protect our history — our heritage — for future generations. Sixteen presidents have designated 157 national monuments , dating to 1906, when Theodore Roosevelt first used the Antiquities Act to protect Devils Tower in Wyoming. In contrast, Trump’s plans add up to the largest elimination of protected areas in U.S. history.