Monday, February 22, 2010

14 New National Monuments – Good or Bad?

What is your first reaction when you read that 14 new National Monuments are being considered by the Obama Administration?

Fantastic, I thought, when I read the headline. I love to spend my free time in truly wild places!

San Rafael Swell, UT
Montana’s Northern Prairie, MT
Lesser Prairie Chicken Preserve, NM
Berryessa Snow Mountains, CA
Heart of the Great Basin, NV
Otero Mesa, NM
Northwest Sonoran Desert, AZ
Owyhee Desert, OR/NV
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, CA (expansion)
Vermillion Basin, CO
Bodie Hills, CA
The Modoc Plateau, CA
Cedar Mesa region, UT
San Juan Islands, WA

While 9 western states are on the list, the article at The Adventure Life, where I first read this, focused in on the pushback by Utah politicians. While not surprising, because this seems to be their modus operandi, I had to laugh at the Politician’s strong reactions to mere “consideration” by the Obama administration. Obviously there is some history involved there.

Does the fact that the list of sites being considered was “leaked” mean that enough opposition can gain traction that some of these will never come to fruition?

Beyond the politics, what are the implications of these designations? Protection of the land and historic resources, economic impacts to surrounding communities, increased burden on the Park Service, decreased recreational opportunities for motorized users, increased recreational experiences for non motorized users. I am sure the list could go on.

Scary to some, and a blessing to others, that “The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorized the President to declare by public proclamation landmarks, structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest situated on lands owned or controlled by the government to be national monuments.”

What was your first thought?

1 comment:

Tuesday said...

Especially given the legal backing of the Antiquities Act, I completely support presidential proclamations of new national monuments, parks &c.

Enforceable protection impedes convenient access, but it allows more people to experience these locations, because they're around for longer. Protection also increases the quality of access, preserving the wild nature of those locations.

This is the definition of sustainability: providing for the needs of future generations without preventing the current generation from meeting its needs. I'd rather force everyone to hike an additional three miles to experience these beautiful places, than deny my grandchildren the opportunity even to do that.