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Why This Matters: America is for sale. These areas belonged to the original Americans — and then belonged to all Americans. Now only a few — very few — Americans of this generation will profit from them — and future generations will be left with photos of their grandeur. And for what? To drill for more gas (we have plenty), mine for coal (which we don’t need), and graze cattle (which can graze elsewhere). The great Interior Secretary Steward Udall asked these questions of his generation in the 1960s in his seminal book “The Quiet Crisis,” writing: “Is a society a success if it creates conditions that…make a wasteland of its finest landscapes? What does material abundance avail if we create an environment in which man’s highest and most specifically human attributes cannot be fulfilled?” Exactly. I (Monica) am old enough to remember an ad called “America the Beautiful” from 1971 and this haunting image (below) sums up our current predicament.
Can He Do That?
The 1906 Antiquities Act empowers a president to protect public lands of archaeological significance, but it is highly debatable whether monument status can be revoked once declared. In 2017, shortly after taking office, the Interior Department redrew the boundaries of these two monuments so that Grand Staircase was cut to half its former size and Bears Ears was cut by 85 percent. According to NPR, “the law itself is unclear on who actually has the power to abolish or shrink national monument boundaries, and legal experts say it has traditionally been the responsibility of Congress to modify the size of public lands.” Tribes whose land is involved were not consulted on the new management plans.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert praised the move: “As the Antiquities Act itself states, and as I have reiterated for years, monuments should be as small as possible to protect artifacts and cultural resources. And they should not be created over the objections of local communities. I’m happy to see the Administration develop management plans that protect areas with sensitive artifacts and yet still provide a way to use these lands for recreation, grazing, and management practices that will keep the lands healthy. The outcomes are always better when the federal government works with local communities rather than presumes to know what is best for them.”
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer A condo collapse in Miami is prompting new conversations about the threats rising sea levels and flooding present to the nation’s infrastructure. Experts say that it’s too early to determine whether or not climate change contributed to the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers. But they also warn that as sea levels rise […]
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Louisiana loses almost a football field of land each day, caused by a combination of climate change-fueled sea level rise, reduced sediment flow from the Mississippi River, and the land gradually sinking. One area that’s not slipping underwater: Avery Island, the birthplace of Tabasco hot sauce that’s still the […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and part of the state Cabinet have approved a highway extension spanning a portion of the Everglades. The move rejects a 2020 recommended order from Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk, claiming that the project was incompatible with continued efforts to establish protections in the region. Legal challenges are […]
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