WASHINGTON Most Americans have likely never heard the name Papahnaumokukea. Nine-year-old Hawaii resident Robbie Bond not only knows where it is and can pronounce it, he hopes to see it one day on his tour of 27 national monuments and help save it.
You cant protect something you dont understand, the nature-loving youngster told HuffPost.
The largest marine protected area on Earth,Papahnaumokukea Marine National Monument 582,578 square miles of ocean surrounding the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is among thenational monumentsthreatened by the Trump administrations controversial review.
In a stand against President Donald Trump, Robbie announced Tuesday that he has launched a nonprofit called Kids Speak for Parks, and he plans to take his message to all 27 monuments targeted by a pair ofexecutiveorderssigned by Trump in April.The goal, he told HuffPost, is to protect, advocate for and educate others about Americas national monuments and parks, which he fears will disappear, shrink or face damaging development.
I want to make sure that our national monuments are available for my kids and for future generations, he said.
Trumps orders tasked the Interior and Commerce departments with reviewing recent land and marine national monuments designated or expanded under theAntiquities Act of 1906.As the presidentlaid out in his remarks during an April 26 signing ceremony, hes looking to end another egregious abuse of federal power, put states back in chargeand open up now-protected areas to tremendously positive things. Both he and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have claimed recent presidents have abused the law to, as Trump put it, lock up millions of acres of land and water.
After learning of Trumps review, Robbie says he felt scared, angry andsad for our country. He decided he had to take action, so he came up with a plan to give other children a platform to celebrate and support Americas prized public lands.
So far, Robbie has traveled with his parents to Californias Carrizo Plain and Giant Sequoia national monuments. At Sequoia, he saw waterfalls and General Sherman, the 275-foot sequoia that is the worlds largest tree by volume. Next week, he is scheduled to visit the 1.35-million-acreBears Ears National Monumentin Utah, which is at the center of the monument controversy.
Last month, Zinkesubmitted an interim reportrecommending Trump shrink Bears Earsboundaries.Instead of the large area designated by former President Barack Obama, it would have been more appropriate to identify and separate the areas that have significant objects to be protected,Zinke wrote.
Robbie told HuffPost that among the people who inspired him was Rose Marcario, CEO of outdoor gear retailer Patagonia. In April, Marcario threatened to sue the Trump administration over the monument orders.A president does not have the authority to rescind a National Monument, Marcario said in a statement at the time. An attempt to change the boundaries ignores the review process of cultural and historical characteristics and the public input.
Robbie has been applauded bymaster navigator Nainoa Thompson, the president of Polynesian Voyaging Society, which sailed awooden voyaging canoearound the globe to inspire people totake care of island Earth.After Robbie reached out to Thompson, the two met and talked for more than an hour. Thompson has offered to help Robbie visit Papahnaumokukea.
When a 9-year old says something like our national parks and monuments are under attack, you sit up and listen, Thompson said in an emailed statement. Standing up for our natural treasures is honorable for anyone, but for a young person like Robbie to take a stand like this it shows courage at a time when our Island Earth needs us most. I support Robbie and Kids Speak for Parks their voices need to be heard.
By sharing photos, videos and stories of his monument tour on social media, Robbie is looking to build an army of 4th graders and others who will stand up for Americas national monuments. As part of the nonprofits education efforts, Robbie and his parents,Robin and Michelle Bond, are also planning to work with inner-city schools to give fourth-graders an opportunity to visit national parks and monuments they might otherwise not have a chance to see.Patagonia has offered an apparel sponsorship and the Bond family has reached out to several conservation organizations seeking funding for the grade-school trips.
Our government needs to hear from us, the youngest amongst us, that our national parks are not for sale, Robbie said in a video Tuesday announcing his nonprofit, adding that you cant get the parks back once they are taken away.