The Crazy Mission to Save 27 U.S. National Monuments
Sometimes you learn about a good cause when it's almost too late. That was the case with Brent Rose, who was driving across Nevada in his van (Ashley "The Beast") when he first learned that 27 U.S. National Monuments were at risk of losing their protected status. The public comment period had quietly been opened and it wasn't on his, or seemingly anybody else's, radar. The deadline for comments is July 10th (that's today, people). It was June and he was headed to the GoPro Mountain Games to cover it for Wired and Outside Magazine.
He did some mental math, and then called his friend at a data/mapping company. "Would it be possible to visit all of these monuments before the deadline?" It would, but just barely. He decided it was worth a shot, and so the #27Monuments project was born. Brent set out to create a short, sharable one-minute video for each of these monuments, to show why each is unique and important, and put them on his Instagram account and on the 27Monuments Facebook page.
Brent's first video for the series went live on June 14th. From there, he ended up visiting all 22 monuments under threat in the continental U.S. and making videos for the five marine monuments using footage from NOAA's Okeanos Explorer program. Driving to the first 21 monuments put more than 6,500 miles on his wheels in under three weeks, before he hopped a flight to Maine for the last one.
One of the most special stops along the way was Craters of the Moon, in Idaho, where he was joined by pro skier Lynsey Dyer. (see video at top)
"Honestly, Lynsey was kind of the inspiration for this whole thing," Brent said. "She and I had recently become friends and were chatting about our philosophy on adventure. I remember she said, 'Adventure is always great, but when it makes the world a better place, that makes it even better.' That really stuck with me. I've been living on the road for two years for this van project I've been calling Connected States, but I always wanted it to be about something bigger. When Lynsey started talking about looking into environmental causes, that's what planted the seed."
Dyer had grown up near Craters of the Moon, and it had a special place in her heart. The two filmed their episode with a HERO5 Black on a Karma Grip. The shots on the bike are Lynsey chasing Brent as he sprints down the trail, holding the camera behind his back.
From sorting through the videos on Brent's Instagram you can see how each of these monuments are special. The all preserve something important, be it cultural, historical, archeological, biological, or simply the raw beauty of untouched wilderness.
"With wilderness, you don't get a second chance," Brent told us. "Some of these places have been untouched for thousands of years. Once we develop on them, or drill them, log them, or mine them, that can't be undone."
Brent managed to make it to all of the monuments, despite extreme sleep deprivation and more than a few sketchy situations. He came out of it more passionate than ever about the need to preserve these wild places. "These are public lands," he said. "They belong to all of us. Not to private companies or politicians. We inherited them from those that came before us, and it's our responsibility to pass them on for generations to come. And this isn't a partisan issue! 16 US presidents have created monuments over the last 111 years. 8 of them were Republican and 8 of them were Democrat. These places are for 'We the people.'"
Today is the final date of the Department of Interior's public comment period, and you only have until 11:59pm Eastern Time to make your voice heard. The 27Monuments website has a direct link to that page, but if the DOI website is down (as it has often been since this weekend) you can also leave a comment at MonumentsForAll.org and they will ensure that your comment gets to the DOI. It only takes three minutes to make your voice heard. Remember this is your land. Take a stand for it.
"This fight won't be over once the comment period closes," Brent says. "We'll continue encouraging people to write their congressional representatives, their senators, and the Department of the Interior. But the public comment period is important to show the will of the people. More than 2.5 million people have already voiced their support. We want to keep these lands open and for everybody."