With less than 80 days left in the 44th Presidency of the United states, President Obama is challenging Theodore Roosevelt’s title as the Conservation President.
While our love for Teddy is overwhelming and his conservation foresight continues to be incomprehensibly important (seriously, can we all just raise our glass to this guy?!), President Obama’s conservation and preservation of our country’s most precious landscapes, waterways, and landmarks is unmatched and unprecedented.
Not only has he protected more than 265 million acres of America’s public lands and waters, President Obama has redefined how our Parks tell the story of our country’s rich heritage. Our definition of conservation is beginning to extend beyond Water (Hooray for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument) and Land (three cheers for Basin and Range National Monument) to include a wider variety of moments and movements that have shaped our country. Stonewall National Monument in New York City, Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in California, and Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland are just three of many incredibly important places the President has designated as National Monuments – places where some of of our country’s most important civil rights movements were born, bettering our country for future generations.
Today, we are hopeful he may solidify the permanent protection of five more worthy places, of which coalitions and local communities have been seeking permanent protection of for a combined time of nearly TWO centuries.
President Obama has conserved more land and water than any President in history – including Theodore Roosevelt, the father of the Antiquities Act and a true conservation hero. Here a 2016 version of Teddy asks President Obama to keep up the good work:
In addition to one of the darkest nights sky in the country and the vast recreation opportunities abundant in the Owyhee Canyonlands, the rich indigenous culture seen throughout Gold Butte, and the millions of people who depend on the clean drinking water stemming from the Birthplace of Rivers – two additional places define important cultural and ecological characteristics of our country. Their inclusion in the fabric of our Park system would be monumental, and we strongly encourage the President to take action to protect to designate them as National Monuments – securing their protection for future generations.
In the corner of southeast Utah lies the most significant, unprotected, cultural landscape within the United States. Some say there is nothing else within our country that even comes close to matching the culture significance of this place. It contains over 100,000 archaeological sites and tens of thousands of cliff dwellings. An unprecedented coalition of tribal leaders – led by the Hopi, the Ute Mountain Utes, the Zuni Pueblo, the Navajo Nation, and the Ute Tribe of Unitah and Ouray – has been established to advocate for the protection of their sacred homeland. This is a spiritual place where these tribes trace their ancestry, “where tribal leaders and medicine people go to conduct ceremonies, collect herbs for medicinal purposes, and practice healing rituals stemming from time immemorial. . . . Our relationship and visits to Bears Ears are essential for healing, and ruining the integrity of those lands forever compromises our ability to heal.”
In addition to the rich cultural history, Bear Ears’ recreation opportunities are endless. From world class rock climbing, to hiking, to rafting, these 1.9 million acres of public land are unmatched. For over 80 years, communities have been seeking protection for this incredible area. The map in the upper left, showcases a protection map drawn under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The map on the right is today’s proposal, this is not a new conversation.
Bears Ears is a shining example of deep and meaningful collaboration and we’ve been proud to play a very small part in the advocacy of this awe-inspiring place.
The Grand Canyon
The Crown Jewel of our National Park System is under siege and a Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument could put the threats to bed. According to Robert F. Kennedy Junior’s recent article in The Guardian “Monument status would end future uranium mining, protect grazing and recreational access, defend old-growth ponderosa pine forests and critical wildlife corridors, safeguard the human rights and cultural heritage of tribal peoples and augment the staggering economic contributions made by the nearly 6 million visitors who come to marvel at Grand Canyon National Park and its astonishing surroundings every year.” Still not enough to encourage you reach out to the Obama Administration and ask them to take action?
Here, KEEN’s new President Casey Sheahan shares how access to the natural world is foundational nourishment for the human spirit, and how when he was 25, the Grand Canyon instilled within him a conservation foundation that would shape his career, and fuel his passions.