How Washington Can Impact Your Backyard

When my boyfriend and I first started dating, he revealed to me that he had never been camping in the woods. About a month later, I took him to Hume Lake in the Sequoia National Forest for the weekend. A prime campsite in the Hume Lake campground had opened up and I lucked out by finding it on During our time at Hume Lake, we floated on the lake with pool floats, explored Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, cooked turkey bacon wrapped hot dogs, drank iced coffee in the morning, and he learned how to start his first campfire. But one of my favorite moments of the trip was when we visited the Giant Sequoia National Monument for a walk among the giants. We loved every minute of it. I was completely in awe with how big the giant sequoias were while they looked down at little me. In the moment, I felt so grateful to be able to have this experience.

Fast forward to this week when President Trump issued an executive order for U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review twenty-seven national monuments across the country designated since 1996 that total over 100,000 acres of public land. Although Sequoia National Park was protected in 1890, its neighbor, the Giant Sequoia National Monument, was only recently protected by President Clinton on April 15, 2000 [1].

When I initially read about the executive order for Secretary Zinke and the U.S. Department of Interior to review the national monuments, my heart broke. Patagonia’s Defend Bears Ears campaign immediately came to mind. Bears Ears is now under review along with twenty-three other National Monuments. It took me a few hours to process that the fight to protect our public lands had begun. Defend Bears Ears is no longer a waiting game – it is a reality. Not only is #DefendBearsEars a reality, but the executive order makes Save the Sequoias, Save Grand Staircase, and many other movements real campaigns that we need to rally behind.

As I read deeper into this executive order, I saw four words that hit home for me, approximately two and a half hours from my house to be exact--- the Carrizo Plain National Monument. It felt surreal to see a place so close to home on this list, but it was naïve to not think about how this Administration could impact public lands locally. Protected by President Clinton in 2001, the Carrizo Plain is home to 204,107 acres of beautiful grassland full of wildflowers that are almost only real in dreams [1]. Additionally, the Carrizo Plain hosts a historical site known as Painted Rock, which contains pictographs created by a Chumash tribe about 4,000 years ago. Despite its beauty and historical significance, private interests still pose a threat to this public land.

Similar to private oil interests in Bears Ears, the mineral rights to part of Carrizo Plain belongs to Vintage Production, a subpart of Occidental Petroleum [2]. These rights predate the proclamation of the monument. Ten years ago, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management was notified by Vintage Production of the company’s aspirations to determine if oil could be found in the Carrizo Plain [2]. This is reason enough to worry about Secretary Zinke’s upcoming review of the Carrizo Plain National Monument as we know that this Administration cares primarily about business transactions.

While politics may be polarizing, protecting public lands--Our land--is a bipartisan issue that everyone can get behind. In 1906, the Antiquities Act authorized the President of the United States to declare federal lands as monuments [1] . This Act gave the ability to the President to establish lands for public use. These National Monuments belong to you and they belong to me. Stop Washington from allowing private interests to impact your backyard. Save the Sequoias. Defend Bears Ears. But first, don’t forget to Save the Carrizo Plain.

[1] Korte, Gregory. “24 national monuments threatened by Trump’s executive order.” USA Today. 26 April 2017. <>

[2] Whitney, David. "Oil Exploration May Shake Up Carrizo." 3 Mar. 2008.<"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-03-06.>

Lexie Gritlefeld