How Would A Second Trump Presidency Affect The National Park Service And Parks?

Though the U.S. presidential election is eight months away, those desiring a more conservative approach to government already have laid out plans they’d like to see implemented if Donald Trump wins, and many would affect the National Park System and wildlife within the system.

Now is the time to be planning for a transition to a more conservative government, say the authors of Project 2025, Presidential Transition Project, because waiting until inauguaration day is too late.

“To execute requires a well-conceived, coordinated, unified plan and a trained and committed cadre of personnel to implement it,” they wrote. “The federal government’s complexity and growth advance at a seemingly logarithmic rate every four years. For conservatives to have a fighting chance to take on the Administrative State and reform our federal government, the work must start now. The entirety of this effort is to support the next conservative President, whoever he or she may be.”

Under the blueprint, the authors — Paul Dans, former chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management during the Trump administration; Spencer Chretien, former special assistant to President Trump; and Troup Hemenway, all members of The Heritage Foundation — would like to see “the radical environmental agenda” that they say started with President Jimmy Carter and continued under Presidents Clinton, Obama, and now Joe Biden rolled back. President Trump worked to reverse that agenda, they claimed.

“Thus, whether the statutory mandate was to promote economic activity, to ensure and expand recreational opportunities, or to protect valuable natural resources, including, for example, parks, wilderness areas, national monuments, and wild and scenic areas, efforts were expended, barriers were removed, and career employees were aided in the accomplishment of those missions” under Trump’s presidency, reads a section of the introduction to Project 2025’s chapter 16, which focuses on the Interior Department.

“Unfortunately, Biden’s [Department of Interior] is at war with the department’s mission, not only when it comes to DOI’s obligation to develop the vast oil and gas and coal resources for which it is responsible, but also as to its statutory mandate, for example, to manage much of federal land overseen by the BLM pursuant to ‘multiple use’ and ‘sustained yield’ principles,” the section continues. “Instead, Biden’s DOI believes most BLM land should be placed off-limits to all economic and most recreational uses. Worse yet, Biden’s DOI not only refuses to adhere to the statutes enacted by Congress as to how the lands under its jurisdiction are managed, but it also insists on implementing a vast regulatory regime (for which Congress has not granted authority) and overturning, by unilateral regulatory action, congressional acts that set forth the productive economic uses permitted on DOI-managed federal land.”

The chapter calls for the next conservative president to:

  • Remove the 10-mile buffer that blocks oil and gas development around Chaco Cultural Historic National Park in New Mexico for 20 years;
  • Reinstate President Trump’s rules pertaining to the Endangered Species Act definitions for Critical Habitat and Critical Habitat Exclusions;
  • Reinstate President Trump’s rules pertaining to the Migratory Bird Act;
  • Revoke National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rules regarding predator control and bear baiting, “which are matters for state regulation”;
  • “Recognize Alaska’s authority to manage fish and game on all federal lands in accordance with ANILCA as during the Reagan Administration, when each DOI agency in Alaska signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game ceding to the state the lead on fish and wildlife management matters”;
  • Review and downsize national monuments;
  • “[S]eek repeal of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which permitted emergency action by a president long before the statutory authority existed for the protection of special federal lands, such as those with wild and scenic rivers, endangered specials, or other unique places”;
  • Reform the National Environmental Policy Act and “reinstate the secretarial orders adopted by the Trump administration, such as placing time and page limits on NEPA documents and setting forth—on page one—the costs of the document itself. Meanwhile, the new administration should call upon Congress to reform NEPA to meet its original goal. Consideration should be given, for example, to eliminating judicial review of the adequacy of NEPA documents or the rectitude of NEPA decisions”;
  • Push meaningful reform of the Endangered Species Act, which “requires that Congress take action to restore its original purpose and end its use to seize private property, prevent economic development, and interfere with the rights of states over their wildlife populations”;
  • Delist the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems;
  • Delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 states;
  • Direct the Fish and Wildlife Service to “end its abuse of Section 10( j) of the ESA by re-introducing so-called ‘experiment species’ populations into areas that no longer qualify as habitat and lie outside the historic ranges of those species”; and,
  • Direct the Fish and Wildlife Service to: “(1) design and implement an Endangered Species Act program that ensures independent decision-making by ending reliance on so-called species specialists who have obvious self-interest, ideological bias, and land-use agendas.”

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