One of the things that makes this country great is that we have such gorgeous landscapes in every state in the country. Another is that we've had the foresight and commitment to protect these places so that future generations can experience the natural beauty and our cultural heritage. Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of our National Park Service, the government entity that maintains and protects more than 400 trails, recreation areas, parks, refuges and monuments across the nation.
So it's time to celebrate!!! And today the president gave us one more reason to do just that: he created the Khatadin Woods and Waters National Monument protecting one of the last and largest undeveloped tracts of land in the eastern U.S.: Maine's remote North Woods, east of Mount Katahdin, the state's highest peak. With dense forest, roaming bears and moose, and streams and lakes creeping throughout nearly 88,000 acres of donated land, a new Maine Woods and Waters Monument will provide plenty of opportunity for camping, hunting, fishing, boating and more - and help create hundreds of jobs to boot.
The president's conservation legacy is already incredibly robust and the new Maine monument only burnishes his reputation. That said, we hope the 100th birthday of the National Park System will spur him to create even more new monuments before he leaves office. On our monument wish list are:
Grand Canyon. With its stunning vistas, colorful walls, and massive size, the Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular places in the world. Mining and logging threaten millions of acres surrounding the Grand Canyon National Park, along with the Colorado River, the largest old growth ponderosa pine forest in North America, and thousands of sacred Native American sites. Vast majorities of Arizonans, Americans from California to Florida, and a broad coalition of conservation groups, businesses, and tribes support the creation of a new, 1.7million acre Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument that would preserve this American icon for future generations.
Coral Canyons and Seamounts. Southeast of Cape Cod, where the continental shelf drops off into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, the Coral Canyons and Seamounts feature canyons as deep as the Grand Canyon and underwater mountains higher than any east of the Rockies. The surrounding waters teem with ocean wildlife--including sea turtles, seabirds, and what scientists believe to be the greatest diversity of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the North Atlantic. Limited fishing restrictions and natural protective features have left the canyons and seamounts largely free from human disturbance to date. Monument status could permanently protect the area from overfishing, drilling, and deep sea mining.
[bears ears pic]
Bears Ears. More than 100,000 archeological sites dot these ancestral lands on the Colorado Plateau. Twenty-six Native American tribes and the nation's conservation community are pushing for the designation of these 1.9 million acres as national monument, which would safeguard the area against mining, drilling and looting.
Gold Butte. Native Americans who lived in this area more than 3,000 years left behind artifacts, rock shelters and ancient writings that remain today. The Nevada region's canyons and red rock formations are home to wildlife such as bighorn sheep, burrowing owls and desert tortoises. A proposed monument of 350,000 acres would protect activities like hiking, bird watching and hunting for generations to come.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The nation's largest wildlife refuge contains dramatic mountain peaks, tundra plains, and scores of caribou, bears, wolves and Arctic foxes. Established as a refuge more than 50 years ago, this area has been under intense pressure from the oil and gas industry for almost as long. Monument status would protect one of America's last great wilderness areas and help keep planet-warming fossil fuels safely in the ground.
Of course there are numerous other special places in need of protection --- from the California Central Coast to the Castner Range near El Paso, Texas to Cashes Ledge off the coast off Maine - and we'd love to make sure that all of them are as beautiful and vibrant 100 years from now as they are today.