Celebrating the National Monuments of 2016
In this edition, we celebrate all our national monuments, including the 24 created in the last 8 years. Here are three we’d like to share:
Sand to Snow
Southern California — February 2016
It's interesting how a national monument on the other side of the country has such strong parallels to the reasons why West Virginians want to designate the Birthplace of Rivers and proof that the landscape we are fighting for is deserving of permanent protections.
The Sand to Snow National Monument is known for rugged and steep terrain that teems with ecological diversity (West Virginia, too!). The area is home to Southern California's highest density of black bears (same here), 12 threatened or endangered species (we've got eight), and is the southernmost range for Quaking Aspen (a similar phenomenon exists at Cranberry Glades). Sand to Snow is the origin of the South Fork Santa Ana River while Birthplace of Rivers can claim the headwaters six rivers! Visitors love the Sand and Snow National Monument and the included San Gorgino Wilderness for the best hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, biking and star gazing around. But if you swapped those names to Birthplace of Rivers and the Cranberry Wilderness, folks say the same thing about West Virginia!
Katahdin Woods and Waters
Maine’s North Woods — August 2016
Katahdin Woods and Waters is the first landscape-scale national monument in the Eastern U.S. All 87,500 acres of the monument were donated by a private landowner, along with $20 million to help provide recreation access to the area. Like Birthplace of Rivers, this monument will offer continued access to hunting, fishing, mountain biking, paddling, and other forms of outdoor recreation. Also like Birthplace, Katahdin has enjoyed broad support among local businesses, especially those that hope the year-round tourism economy can become part of longer-term economic transformation. The areas have something else in common: Cranberry Glades in Birthplace of Rivers has plant species typically found in Northern New England and Canada — legacies of the last Ice Age.
Rio Grande del Norte
New Mexico — March 2013
The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument is a lesson in what can happen when sportsmen and businesses work together. John Cornell, president of the Dona Ana County Associated Sportsmen, said that "people were working to protect Rio Grande Del Norte for years, and that support grew over time. We urged the President to safeguard this wildlife haven to ensure that this area, which is home to some of the nation's best elk, deer, antelope, and trout populations, would always be here for future generations to enjoy. Today I'm comforted to know that my children and grandchildren will always have a place to hunt and fish thanks to it's status as a national monument."
That status as a national monument has translated into bigger business for local communities. The New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce and 150 area businesses also supported the national monument initiative. As a result there was a:
We've got over 200 businesses and a number of West Virginia sportsmen that agree: Birthplace of Rivers National Monument would be good for our local economy and a great way to protect our outdoor traditions.
Will Birthplace of Rivers Be Next?
Photo: Cranberry Wilderness by Sam Taylor.
We just don’t know. With more than 80% of West Virginians supporting the proposal — and that number growing — we’ve got great momentum. If Birthplace of Rivers is not designated this year, we we’ve got the support, including yours, to get this done. We’re positive that pride in West Virginia’s natural beauty, recreation heritage, and desire to protect our headwaters will win out. Stay tuned! And if you haven’t yet sent your letter to the President, you can do it now!