Thursday, October 20, 2016

6 National Monuments Obama should create before he leaves office.

Obama has already protected vast areas of land and water under the antiquities act - Katahdin Woods and Waters, a vast area of ocean off the Atlantic Coast, the San Gabriel Mountains - and 20 other places now owe their status as National Monuments to the current President. However, he still has a few months in office, and there are still many spectacular regions in urgent need of the protections his executive order would grant.

#1 Bears Ears

Ancient cliff dwellings, spectacular rock formations, and unique wildlife and ecosystems fill this wild landscape in Southeastern Utah - yet outside of a few scattered parks, monuments, and wildernesses, this amazing region is vulnerable to oil exploration, the churning wheels of off road vehicles, mining, and the desecration of ancient structures and indian graves by looters and grave robbers. The proposed 1.9 million acre Bears Ears monument would protect land from Canyonlands National Park to Glen Canyon and Monument Valley. It would preserve wild ecosystems, Native American cultural sites, and spectacular landscapes forever.

Read More about Bears Ears:
Bears Ears Coalition:

#2 Owyhee Canyonlands

Another vast desert landscape - the Owyhee Canyonlands National Monument would occupy the larger part of Eastern Oregon that is adjacent to its border with Idaho, and would protect 2,579,032 acres of canyons, high plains, and a variety of ecological and archeological marvels. It would stop destructive practices in this amazing landscape, yet would grandfather in historic uses. This monument could easily be double or triple the proposed size if areas of Nevada and Idaho were included.

Read more about the Ohwyhee Canyonlands:
Owyhee Canyonlands Campaign:

#3 Gold Butte

This wild country lies between Lake Mead and Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument. It is a land of beautiful rock formations and endangered species such as the Desert Tortoise and Bighorn Sheep. National Monument status would protect the ecological significance, the archaeological wealth, and the myriad of recreational activities available there.

Read more about Gold Butte:
Friends of Gold Butte:

Friends of Nevada Wilderness:

#4 Cascade - Siskiyou National Monument expansion.

This existing National Monument on the Oregon/California border is simply too small to protect the unique ecosystems and biological diversity it was created to preserve. The monument was first established in 2000, and is only 66,000 acres in size. The proposed expansion would add 90,328 acres - more than doubling it in size.

Read More about Cascade - Siskiyou:
Friends of Cascade - Siskiyou National Monument:

#5 San Rafael Swell

The spectacular 650,000 acres of the San Rafael Swell have long been at the center of a battle between those wishing to save these ancient canyons, mesas, and soaring rock arches, and those who would tear this wild landscape apart in their greed fueled search for oil. The clock is ticking for this redrock heart of Utah canyon country, and Obama needs to act quickly to save it.

Read More about the San Rafael Swell:
I couldn’t find a particular organization or campaign dedicated to San Rafael Swell, but here’s the Wikipedia page:

#6 Dark Divide

This Monument has not been proposed by anyone other than myself (to my knowledge). However, it is no less deserving of monument status than any other wild region. Wild rivers, ancient volcanoes, alpine meadows, caves, and remnants of the old growth forest that once blanketed the region grant this underappreciated corner of Washington's Cascade Range more than enough prerequisites to qualify it for consideration as a National Monument. It would prevent forever the threat of mines in fragile watersheds such as the Green River, it would keep forever at bay the greedy chainsaws of timber corporations, and could chase the grinding wheels, noxious fumes, and silence destroying engines of off road vehicles from these mountains. Crumbling roads and disappearing trails could be restored, and the area turned into a mecca of ecologically friendly recreation that would bolster nearby communities that are currently mired in an economic slump brought on as a result of unsustainable logging practices. A National Monument is just what this region needs. It would be approximately 1.32 million acres in size.

Read More about the area:
Here’s Gifford Pinchot National Forests’s page (the agency currently administering the area I’ve proposed for conversion into a National Monument):

The Cascade Forest Conservancy (formerly Gifford Pinchot Task Force) is the organization dedicated to conservation efforts in the area:

This list only scratches the surface of the places that could be saved forever by the Antiquities Act, and the last days of a presidency are the optimum time for them to be brought to fruition. Other locations that could be protected by presidential order include Gold Butte, Greater Grand Canyon Heritage, Modoc Plateau, Birthplace of Rivers, and Montana’s Northern Prairie. We need to tell President Obama that we support the protection of all these wild landscapes for the creatures that call them home and for future generations.