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Last chance to comment on fate of 6 California national monuments

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A new sign welcomes visitors to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, which was declared by President Obama on October 10, 2014.
Jed Kim
A new sign welcomes visitors to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, which was declared by President Obama on October 10, 2014.

Today is the last day to submit a public comment on the federal government's review of 27 national monuments, including six in California.

Today is the final day of the public comment period for 27 national monuments under review by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

President Trump initiated the review with an executive order in April.The six monuments up for review in California are: Mojave Trails National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, Berryessa Snow Mountain, Carrizo Plain National Monument, and Giant Sequoia National Monument. 

Sean Hecht, Co-Executive Director of UCLA's Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, explained the role that public comments play in the review process. 

How are national monuments initially designated? 

"National monuments are created by the president under the Antiquities Act, which allows the president to decide to protect certain lands. The president can designate monuments with a stroke of a pen, and it often will allow for more preservation of resources and make it harder to do things that are destructive to the resources in these areas."

What prompted this review process? 

"A lot of these areas have oil and gas underneath the ground that otherwise could be taken for private gain on these public lands. There also are ideological objections in some places, particularly in Utah, where there are people who believe the federal government shouldn't be limiting the use of these lands. It is hard to know exactly [what caused the review], but certainly if the national monument status was taken away, in most cases it would mean that it is easier to exploit the resources on those lands, and many of us believe that is really what's behind this review."

How much are these public comments weighed in the decision process? 

"Unfortunately, I don't think the public comments will be weighted very heavily in the decision-making process, but I still think it is really important that people comment. It demonstrates a lot of support for these monuments, it puts political pressure on members of Congress and other representatives, and it helps to document what the level of support is."

To listen to the full segment, click the blue play button above. 

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