Environmental campaign comes to campus

Environment Colorado is bringing their fight to preserve the Canyon of the Ancients and Browns Canyon to the Tivoli Quad on Feb. 1.

Environment Colorado campaign organizer Emily Struzenberg works on letters at her office near the 16th Street Mall. Photos by Ali Watkins | awatkin9@msudenver.edu

They will be hosting an event called Day of Action to collect signatures on their petition to save Colorado’s national monuments. There is concern for those national monuments because their safety has never been threatened before on a federal level. Donald Trump is the first U.S. president to suggest constricting their size. For this reason, Environment Colorado will make an effort to inspire more action statewide to incline Colorado senators to make their support of these monuments clear to the public.

Intern Shahid Ahmed wrote, “We at Environment Colorado feel that an attack on one national monument is an attack on all national monuments.”

The legislation passed in Utah to cut the size of Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument inspired action in Colorado.

“We just don’t want what happened in Utah to happen in Colorado,” said campaign organizer Emily Struzenberg.

The boundaries of Bears Ears were cut by 85 percent, and Grand Staircase Escalante’s boundaries were cut by 45 percent, according to Struzenberg.

Although the monuments are still protected by the state government, that doesn’t mean they are safe from harm. Bears Ears, for example, is rich with opportunities for uranium mining. State protection does not take away the rights of mining companies to drill and dig in the monument. Under federal protection, however, the lands would be safe from drilling, mining or any other kind of damage.

Colorado Sens. Michael Bennett and Cory Gardner have both expressed support for the preservation of the state’s national monuments. Since there is support from the government, Environment Colorado will be collecting signatures on its Day of Action to educate the public and show the state that the preservation of national lands is important to people across Colorado.

“It seems like you’re not really doing anything by signing a petition,“ Struzenberg said, “but that means you’re giving a voice to the public. So that a senator, when they see that there are 1,200 names on this petition, they know that we’re collecting physical petitions.”

The goal is not only to voice the concerns of the public to the government, but also to educate the community about what is being done to the environment and what can be done to fix it. The more educated the public is, the more public support there is to show to the state.

“About half of our signatures right now are from students, which is really great, but we want to show a broad spectrum of support,” Struzenberg said.

Associate professor of geology Barbara EchoHawk, Ph.D., said, “I think federal protection for shared lands is extremely important.”

In terms of Browns Canyon and Canyon of the Ancients, EchoHawk added, “Having it preserved is one of the ways to make sure it’s there for people in the future.”

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