As President, Teddy Roosevelt created 150 national forests, 18 national monuments, five national parks, 51 wildlife refuges, and passed the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gave the president the authority to create national monuments from federal land.
On April 26th, President Trump signed an executive order that directs Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review all the national monuments created through the Antiquities Act from 1996 to now that are larger than 100,000 acres. He has 120 days to complete his mission.
In a press briefing held the day before Trump signed the order, Zinke outlined the purpose of the order and why the monuments were being reviewed. “The designation of the monuments may have resulted in the loss of jobs, reduced wages and reduced public access. And in the case of sign public land use, we feel that the public, the people that the monuments effect, should be considered,” Zinke said.
On Monday, Zinke visited Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. President Obama named the site a national monument just last December. Zinke rode into the park on horseback and called himself a Teddy Roosevelt Republican in order to quell the fears that the Trump administration wanted him to hand over the parks to mining ventures and other pro-business, anti-environment organizations.
This is not the first time Zinke has compared himself to Teddy Roosevelt to demonstrate his prowess for and love of unadulterated nature. “I often tell people I’m a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist. Like Teddy, I believe our lands are worth cherishing for the greater good,” Zinke wrote in a column for The Missoulian last April.
Despite Zinke’s repeated comparisons to Teddy Roosevelt and the fact that no president has ever overturned a national monument designation made under the Antiquities Act, activist and environmentalist are still worried that the Trump administration's heavily anti-environmental agenda does not bode well for the future of the national monuments under Zinke’s review.
Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn joined Boston Public Radio to discuss the history of national monuments and why Zinke’s description of himself as a Teddy Roosevelt Republican is off base.
Click above to hear our interview with Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn in its entirety