“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
— John Muir
On April 26th, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that calls for a review of any national monument created since Jan. 1, 1996, that spans at least 100,000 acres.
The Initial order called for review of 27 monuments with a big focus on Bears Ears, and Grand Staircase. Canyons of the Ancient in Colorado has been removed from the initial list, but many more still have an unclear future.
On December 4th 2017, The President announced his plans to shrink Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument by 50% and Bears Ears National Monument by 85%. This is the biggest call for federal land reduction in history.
Most national monuments are created by the executive power granted to the president under Antiquities Act of 1906, signed into law by former president Teddy Rosevelt.
16 presidents have used this power to create 157 National Monuments for the American people to enjoy. A sitting president has never tried to reverse a previous president's decision to declare a national monument. Trump's executive order is unprecedented.
Monumental is a photographic attempt to raise awareness of America's public lands.
There is no question that American's are hard working people. Generations of immigrants have poured blood, sweat, and tears into making this country what it is.
Hard work must be followed by reflection and relaxation in order to create a meaningful life though. Without public lands, the people of the U.S. are missing out on an integral part of the American Dream.
The Monumental project was designed with a goal of documenting the vary lands that America is contemplating selling off to big industry for exploitation.
The project is a collection of fine art landscape photographs and video shorts designed to spotlight America's finest landscapes in hopes of educating people on the importance of public lands and the role that they play in our nation.
Call To Action
There are many ways to stand up for our national monuments. Please Visit the Get Involved page to find out how you can make a difference in protecting America's lands.
Mike Wardynski (Nature Mike) was born in Saginaw Michigan. Growing up in the countryside, Mike took many family camping trips at a young age which cultivated a fondness for nature and a deep respect for the outdoors. Human and natural interconnectivity is the foundation of his philosophy and work.
Based out of Oakland California, Mike is a professional landscape and documentary photographer as well as an enthusiastic photography instructor. Leading workshops in many of America's National Parks and Monuments, he knows the nation's public lands better than most.
In 2016, Mike began work on an ongoing project called "A Sign Of The Times" that focused on social and environmental injustices. After the president announced his plans to reduce the size of 27 US Monuments, he quickly began to work on "Monumental - America's Greatest Lands" Mike remains committed to educating people about public land and importance of natural world.
"When we immerse ourselves in nature, we begin to understand the essence of life." - Mike Wardynski
Stephen W. Oachs is an award-winning photographer, successful entrepreneur and technology veteran, who began his journey in photography the moment he picked up his first SLR camera. Ever since, his lenses have focused on the inspiring majesty of mother earth and the unflinching beauty of the animal kingdom.
Completely self-taught, Stephen's unique and distinctive style is earning him recognition as one of today's finest digital nature photographers. He was recognized in 2007 as wildlife photographer of the year by the National Wildlife Federation and was awarded best nature photographer in 2008 by National Geographic Magazine for his work photographing the endangered snow leopard.
Whether trekking through the wilds of Alaska, enduring the raw challenges of nature or experiencing the thrill of life on the edge, Stephen captures rare and breathtaking moments of light and time. His exceptional eye is filtered only by his passion for life, deep affinity with nature and love of adventure.