Amid clamoring about the debate tonight, arsenic in our rice and chicken, and court settlements about the BP – Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it might be easy to think that there’s no good news out there for the environment. But, no matter how poorly we do in terms of dealing with climate change, protecting our food and water sources, managing our energy consumption, and making strong energy choices, one thing Americans have always done well is preserve public lands. Our National Park System, formally created in 1916, manages 58 National Parks and dozens of other public lands with designations such as National Monument, Wilderness Preserve, National Historic Area, National Memorial, and Marine Protected Area – protecting around 397 sites in total. (You can find a complete list of official use designations here.)
And as of September 21st, make that one more. Just a few weeks ago, President Obama designated Chimney Rock in southwestern Colorado a National Monument. Although the site was already a designated historic site because of is historic significance (it was home to a settlement of Ancient Pueblo Indians around 1,000 years ago), the elevated status will provide the site with further protection from the National Park Service and ensure it is preserved for generations. The protected archeological site lies within existing National Forest Land. And, in case you were wondering, it’s kinda pretty:
Groups like the Sierra Club as well as numerous grassroots and historical organizations lobbied hard to get Chimney Rock’s status elevated, and are currently celebrating their success – as well as recent study data suggesting that preserving public lands has positive economic benefits for surrounding communities. Hey, in contentious times, it’s nice to see something as positive as a new National Monument moving forward- and it’s nice that preserving rare, beautiful, and historic places is still something we all agree on.