Secure New National Monuments and Wilderness

January 19, 2016
Green River as viewed from Hardscrabble Hill in Canyonlands National Park, Utah
National Park Service/Andrew Kuhn

America has a long tradition of preserving special wild places from reckless development. People can experience remote desert canyons, watch alligators from grassy shores, and find refuge in remnants of untamed nature near teeming cities. These pieces of our natural heritage remain intact because previous generations took steps to protect them. Now it is time to add to that legacy.

NRDC draws on bedrock environmental laws to expand America’s protected wild landscape. The Antiquities Act plays a vital role in this effort: Nearly every president in the last 100 years has used the law to create new national monuments. We encourage sitting presidents to use this authority to protect more special places from industrial development.

We help to make the case for conservation by demonstrating broad and diverse public support. In Southern California, we have worked with the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, Amigos de los Rios, and other local groups to show that low-income and minority communities in Los Angeles County are eager for better access to wild places. This helped lay the groundwork for President Obama’s declaration of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in October 2014.

In Utah, we are working with a coalition of faith groups, public-health professionals, and local organizations to generate momentum for establishing the Greater Canyonlands National Monument. We emphasize bipartisan support for conserving wildlands; three Republican presidents and two Democrats established Utah’s iconic national parks, and Congress voted to enlarge most of them. Creating the Greater Canyonlands National Monument will keep these red rocks safe from looming fracking operations—and continue to bolster tourism to the region.

Pressure from the oil and gas industry is also bearing down on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. We are urging Congress to use the Wilderness Act to declare the refuge a federal wilderness area—the highest protection available for public lands and one that prohibits all development.