In April, President Trump ordered the Department of the Interior to review the status of all national monuments designated since 1996. On July 10, the public comment period closes. Before then, Brent Rose has dedicated himself to getting as many Americans as possible to weigh in.
“Whoever our next President is will probably reverse a lot of the harm being done by our current government,” Brent told me over the phone yesterday. “But that may be too late for our national monuments. Damage done to them now will last forever.”
Brent was on his way to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument when we spoke. There, you and I own 88,000 acres of pristine wilderness in the North Maine Woods, which are protected and managed for our enjoyment by the federal government. Why? Because the co-founder of Burt’s Bees purchased the land, then donated it to the nation specifically for that purpose.
Like other monument designations, Katahdin is controversial. While it’s spawned an economic boom in the rural area and protects access for traditional activities like hunting and snowmobiling, Katahdin’s designation plays into the GOP’s narrative about big government overstepping local interests. That’s the lie they’re using to cover up an effort to steal public land from American citizens in order to sell it off for resource extraction—a plan that won’t benefit the nation whatsoever.
The public comment period is our chance to tell the government what we think about our public lands being stolen. And Brent wants as many people as possible to weigh in, while their voice can still be heard.
To do that, he’s driving around the country in his van, Ashley, visiting each of the land-based monuments that are threatened and producing films and social media content around all of them. Starting just two months ago, he's already covered 6,000 miles and today, with Katahdin, he’s visited all the monuments. He says he hasn’t slept more than two or three hours a night since May.
“These lands are our legacy, and we must fight for them,” Brent says. During the road trip, his dad grew so concerned by his lack of sleep that he flew out to help his son drive. Rather than sleep, Brent used the time to edit and post photos and videos.
What does Brent hope to get out of all this? It’s simple. “This isn’t a Democrat versus Republican issue,” he tells me. “It’s about the future of this country. And I want as many people as possible to be able to participate in that process.”
Want to help? You can submit your comment to the DOI here. So far, 1.1 million Americans have.