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A Monumental President

A Monumental President

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, August 26, 2017/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, photography, sustainability, art and design, environment, climate change, Archive Pick of the Week

                             The Bears Ears National Monument, Utah (credit: US Geological Survey)

The legacy of President Barack Obama to protect environmental and cultural resources for posterity was extended by his designation of two new national monuments on December 28, 2016. As Mr. Obama stated in his declaration creating the Bears Ears and Gold Butte national monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act:

Today, I am designating two new national monuments in the desert landscapes of southeastern Utah and southern Nevada to protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes.  Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes.

The Bears Ears in southeastern Utah and Gold Butte in southern Nevada add to an impressive list of protected areas designated by Mr. Obama. Native American tribes including the Utes, the Navajo, the Hopi, the Zuni, and others had tired for nearly a century to protect the Bears Ears from looters and desecration of past and present sacred sites. In total, over 1.6 million acres are covered by the new monuments bringing him is close to matching the areas protected of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The new designation can be rightly celebrated throughout the nation.

The designation of Nevada's Gold Butte, like virtually all previous national monument designations, resulted from collaborative efforts by individuals, local organizations, and national support groups. The Conservation Alliance, created by manufacturers from the outdoor industry, has been a long-term supporter of local groups who develop and plan monument designation requirements including the current two new monuments. As 2016 comes to a close, you might consider a personal contribuition to assist the work of TCA or another non-profit organization so they can continue their their own important work of land and cultural conservation. Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation commented on the proclamation:

"With this step to protect and conserve these irreplaceable lands, President Obama has set a new precedent for national monument tribal collaborative management. And he has strengthened the relationship between our Navajo and American nations. As a Navajo and American, I am proud our President listened to a sovereign appeal and acted to preserve our sacred land for future generations."

Mr. Obama should be celebrated for taking bold actions, similar to previous Presidents before him, to protect cultural and environmental resources of national importance. With his declaration, he has become a "monumental President" for the history books himself.

The Editors


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