Hands Off Our National Monuments

Hands Off Our National Monuments

Texas in My Heart, Mountains and Public Spaces On My Mind

Campfire Guy here.  Every two or three years, we pack up the family truckster, strap grandma to the roof and head to the mountains of Colorado.  Okay, one of those might not be true.  We only make it to Colorado every five to ten years.

Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Photo Courtesy of Tony Gutierrez.

Estes Park – Gateway to Rocky Mountain Nation Park

Our usual destination is Estes Park, Colorado.  On those trips, the highlights are the drive up Old Fall River Road to the Alpine Visitor Center and the hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Oh the hiking.  Mountains give me a yearning and eagerness for movement, which I completely lack in the suburbs of Dallas.  In spite of my dislike of running and my love for all things nacho, I love a good hike in the mountains.

Nymph Lake in RMNP. Photo courtesy of Tony Gutierrez.

We were lucky enough to take our kids to RMNP in 2014.  They were a little timid of the looming mountains as we drove in from Ft. Collins, Colorado.  Choruses of, “I’m not going anywhere near those” and “nope, those are too tall, I’m not hiking” echoed from the rear of our grocery getter.  They didn’t realize that you ease into the mountains, you just don’t suddenly appear atop a 14,000-foot peak.

Happy, happy, happy at Bear Lake in RMNP.  Yep, another great Tony Gutierrez photo!

During our stay, we did two day hikes, about four miles each.  Not too shabby for a group of six adults and seven kids, the youngest of which was two.  Seeing the kids scamper up a trail in search of what new hiking stick or chipmunk awaited them filled my heart with joy.  

Chipmunk sighting. Photo courtesy of Tony Gutierrez.

Heaven On Earth

Returning to the trail head with the same number of kids we left with was nice too.  To paraphrase the eloquent John Muir, “mountains are awesome!”  Rocky Mountain National Park is (thus far) my Heaven on Earth.

My son informed us that “God made him to climb mountains”.

Our National Monuments are at Risk

So why prattle on about Rocky Mountain National Park?  For starters, it’s the only National Park or Monument I’ve been fortunate enough to visit.  The park is protected public land, intended to be enjoyed by generations to come.  I know the status of National Parks is not currently up for review like our National Monuments, but what’s to stop emboldened, short-sighted politicians from setting their sights on those as well?  

Cedar Mesa Citadel Ruins in Bears Ears National Monuments. Photo courtesy of Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The President has tasked Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke with a review of the Antiquities Act of 1906.  You can find more on Secretary Zinke’s review of the act here.  Ultimately, he will make a report to the President who will then decide the fate of National Monuments that were designated over the past twenty years.

Gold Butte National Monument. Photo courtesy of BLM.

A Few National Monuments on the Chopping Block

Places like Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Carrizo Plain, Gold Butte and Vermilion Cliffs, currently designated as National Monuments may lose their protected status.  These monuments evoke the same passion for the outdoors my family and I feel for RMNP. It would be nice to have assurances the awe-inspiring beauty we see today will be there for my kids, and all future generations, to see.    

Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Photo courtesy of BLM.

FDR Gets It

What is clear, our National Monuments and Parks are a GREAT deal, right now.  Why break what’s already fixed?  As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There is nothing so American as our National Parks…the fundamental idea behind the parks…is that the country belongs to the people.” Our National Monuments must remain protected for our kids, our grandkids (who we will one day get to spoil and feed cake to at 10 pm,) and for grandmas everywhere.

Carrizo Plain National Monument. Photo courtesy of BLM.

Here’s What You Can Do

  • If you are a writer of any and all things outdoors, take part in the Monumental Day of Blogging.
  • Submit your comments to the Department of the Interior, through Monuments for All here
  • Voice your concerns to Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke here  
  • Reach out to your Senators here  
  • Reach out to your Representatives here
  • Call the White House 855-980-5634
  • Register to vote.
  • Pay attention to how and what your elected officials vote for.  2018 is just right around the corner.

Thanks to fellow outdoor blogger Scott Jones for spearheading the Monumental Day of Blogging.  His fantastic work can be found at www.justgetoutmore.com.

Further thanks to my friend Tony Gutierrez for use of the awesome Rocky Mountain National Park shots.  Head over to his Instagram feed for more of his work.

Even more thanks to the Bureau of Land Management for uploading free images (like the cover photo for the post of Indian Creek, in Bears Ears and the others as attributed) for use in the blogging world.

Editors Note:  No grandmas were harmed in the writing of this article.  



4 thoughts on “Hands Off Our National Monuments

  1. You raise a good point. If the blowhards in Washington start thinking they can just break the rules set forth by their predecessors, they’ll start with things like monuments, refuges, and historical sites. But why stop there? Next things they’ll end up going for are the national parks and BLM areas.

    1. That is my biggest fear. Thus far, the opposing views I’ve seen to my post aren’t, “National Monuments are bad and they need to go”. Their positions have been, “Well if Obama hadn’t overreached his authority, maybe we wouldn’t need a review”. The review covers designations over the last 20 years, including those implemented by G.W. Bush. This issue should span political lines. Does the review end up benefiting the general public, or only the shareholders of some big corporation? Just because your predecessor did something, doesn’t necessarily make it bad. We get it, the reality TV star won. He needs to do good for the people, not his ego or some hidden agenda.

  2. Growing up in Minnesota where we only have one National Park, which for the record is really hard to get to, I didn’t understand or appreciate our national park system until recently. These place’s shear beauty is unfathomable. My experience in Canyon Lands and Arches National Park last year (You might enjoy my post on Moab if you’re interested in finding out more.), had a powerful affect on me. Protecting these beautiful places has become a priority. I want to thank you for making the avenues for doing so clear to everyone. Now, now one has an excuse.

    1. I too have a long list of National Parks and Monuments I’d like to visit one day. Just need time and money. Some assurances from DC that they’ll all be around for a long time would be nice too. Your Moab post was awesome, hope you guys make it back soon!

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