Land Almost Lost: Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona

Photo by Kevin Ebi (Licensed)

The staggering beauty of the national monuments threatened by Trump

Leading nature photographers joined together for a free ebook capturing the 27 U.S. national monuments being reevaluated by the Trump administration.


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Posted on May 17, 2017   Updated on Feb 28, 2020, 3:38 pm CST



I’ll never forget the first time I experienced the feeling of nature lost. Oddly, I was on a hike on a trail that’s one of the more beautiful in the Central Cascades of Washington state.

Even though most of this tree had long been turned into homes and firewood, it was still something to behold. Each of the red and brown veins that formed its trunk was thicker than my arm.

Land Almost Lost: Rio Grande del Nortre in New Mexico
Rio Grande del Nortre in New Mexico

While the forest along the Twin Falls trail today is beautiful, it is a mere shadow of the one that grew here more than 100 years ago. Where there were once giant cedars standing as sentinels of a diverse forest, today’s trees are more skinny and uniform. After all, they all took root at the same time after the old-growth trees were methodically removed.

And what happened at Twin Falls was repeated nearly everywhere. In my state, the only place to experience a forest that’s at all reminiscent of what the first modern settlers saw is in a national park.

Land Almost Lost: Giant Sequoia
Giant Sequoia National Monument in Sierra Nevada, California

I understand we can’t save 100 percent of everything. But we also shouldn’t settle for saving 0 percent. And that seems to be the direction we are heading.

As I write these words, nearly two dozen U.S. national monuments could soon lose their protected designation. They include an area in Arizona where ancient sand dunes have turned into colorfully swirled rock, one of the last truly wild stretches of the Missouri River, and a place where lava fountains once sprayed thousands of feet into the air (you can still see where the vents were).

They are all spectacular sites that have managed to survive despite massive development that surrounds them. And they deserve to survive for generations to come.

In Body Image
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Jackson County, Oregon

There is hope.

The final decision on the fate of these wonders of nature won’t be made until after a public comment period. That is why I have teamed up with several leading nature photographers to produce the free book, Land Almost Lost: A Call to Save Our National Monuments. We are working together to show you what we are all on the verge of losing. And to ask you to take action so that we don’t lose it.

Time is short.

Land Almost Lost: Carrizo Plain National Monument
Carrizo Plain National Monument in California

The comment period for Bears Ears National Monument closes May 26, 2017. The comment period for the other sites closes on July 10, 2017. Today, these areas are only “almost” lost. This may be the only chance we have to ensure these special places remain wild.

Enjoy the book. Then raise your voice so that you can continue to enjoy this land.

Bears Ears Nationmal Monument in Utah
Bears Ears National Monument in Utah

Kevin Eli is a nature photographer and one of the contributors to Land Almost Lost: A Call to Save Our National Monuments, a free ebook that features photos of each of the 29 monuments being re-evaluated pursuant to an executive order by President Trump. Its release coincides with the start of the 60-day public commenting period on the plan. To download the ebook and learn more about the monuments at risk, visit Land Almost Lost. Then make your voice heard here, and follow up by contacting your representative and senators.

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*First Published: May 17, 2017, 6:00 am CDT