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Topic: Politics & Policy     Department: Letters

Monument, schmonument

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It's refreshing to see the Obama administration take some protective steps on the National Landscape Conservation System lands (HCN, 12/20/10). Unfortunately, telling an agency with a tradition of neglect and exploitation to focus on conservation may be optimistic, especially when federal lands will face hostility and budget cuts from conservatives in the new Congress.

President Clinton and then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt established quite a few new national monuments within the BLM to avoid facing the wrath of anti-federal locals upset about the idea of new national parks. Never mind that parks draw visitors and dollars into local economies. But those national monuments have received little better treatment than generic BLM lands. Off-road vehicle use in particular is out of control, and such abuse is contrary to all other conservation and public use values of public land. Near Moab, Utah, for example, motorized vehicles routinely enter wilderness study areas or designated wilderness in defiance of signs and fences. A whole generation of motorized thrill-seekers has had no education in conservation and has rarely, if ever, met a BLM ranger.

People complain that National Park Service management is expensive compared to the Forest Service and BLM. But the public gets great value from the NPS. Not only does the agency make a serious effort at law enforcement and patrol, its visitor centers and community outreach efforts educate everyone about conservation while giving students and locals opportunities for jobs and volunteerism in the parks. The BLM could follow this model as well, but it will require a big shift in agency culture and reliable budget incentives to make it stick.

Tom Ribe
Santa Fe, New Mexico

understanding value in beauty and nature
Carolyn Hopper
Carolyn Hopper
Jan 21, 2011 01:13 PM
Anything and everything we can do in this country to learn to be willing to understand all the values to beauty, nature and all that nature sustains should be done - tax money, education--for children (every school child), for adults, literature, newspapers, television and all the new electronic gadgets --

Yes other school and national programs are important. Let's band together to support state parks, national parks, national monuments,
wilderness areas and all that they represent apart from just gas, oil or money.

Let's stop the arguing and rhetoric among politicians and screaming among those for and against natural places and protecting them.

And, let's go back to what President Kennedy said 50 years ago -
Ask not what your country will do for you, but what you can do for your country -- including all of the natural , beautiful and wild places.

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