Protecting Natural, Historic Treasures
It is relatively easy for presidents and members of Congress to set aside naturally and/or historically significant lands in the West for federal protection.
On his way out of the White House, President Barack Obama has done just that. He has designated two new national monuments, one covering 1.35 million acres in Utah and the other including 300,000 acres in Nevada.
Not everyone agrees with Obama’s action. Some people in the two states disagree with the president’s action.
Merely taking the step was relatively easy because of federal ownership of much of the land, however.
Meanwhile, east of the Mississippi, tens of millions of Americans would like to see national parks, monuments, etc., established or expanded in our region, but know it is unlikely to occur because much of the land is owned by private entities or states. One proposal is for a new Birthplace of Rivers national monument in West Virginia.
Making that happen would require far more than a presidential designation, however, because of land ownership complications.
But safeguarding historic and naturally important areas should not be a question of whether such action is easy. It is time presidents and Congress paid more attention to accomplishing that in the eastern United States.