For Immediate Release:
April 26, 2017
Jaina Moan, Executive Director, Friends of Gold Butte
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RELEASE: Friends of Gold Butte and Friends of Basin and Range National Monuments respond to President’s Executive Order threatening our nation’s public land treasures
LAS VEGAS – In response to the President’s Executive Order to review some national monuments, Jaina Moan of the Friends of Gold Butte and Checko Salgado of the Friends of Basin and Range spoke out in defense of Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments. Both Gold Butte and Basin and Range are incredibly popular in Nevada; they protect local and cultural heritage; they drive tourism and outdoor recreation which supports jobs; and were the result of years of public input. Last night, the Nevada Assembly echoed these sentiments when it passed a resolution (AJR13) of support for the monuments.
“The Gold Butte National Monument had 15 years of public discourse prior to its designation. Thousands of Nevadans and Americans participated in those conversations and expressed their support for permanent protection of this land via petitions, phone calls to their elected representatives, public meetings and other methods,” said Jaina Moan, Executive Director of the Friends of Gold Butte.
“Gold Butte needed and deserved the national monument designation and the use of the Antiquities Act was appropriate. Gold Butte is truly one of America’s treasures of antiquity.”
The Executive Order is not only an attack on America’s public lands legacy and our native and cultural heritage, it will hurt surrounding communities and small businesses that have come to rely on access to these places. Outdoor recreation alone drives a $887 billion economy and supports 7.6 million jobs. Numerous studies have shown that communities located near monuments and other protected public lands have stronger economies, and that the outdoor and recreational opportunities they provide increase residents’ quality of life, making areas near monuments more attractive to new residents, entrepreneurs and small businesses, and investment.
“Basin and Range National Monument protected a uniquely American landscape. The pristine valleys and seven ranges included within the monuments boundaries protect important cultural and historic artifacts, vital habitat and surround Michael Heizer’s artwork City,” said Checko Salgado of Friends of Basin and Range.
“City and the outdoor recreational opportunities the monument has to offer attracts visitors from all across the globe. As City nears completion and more people learn about Basin and Range, tourism to the area will increase and diversify the economy in rural Eastern Nevada, which needs the boost.”
Since it was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used on a bipartisan basis by 16 presidents (8 Republicans and 8 Democrats) to protect America’s most iconic natural, cultural, and historic places including: Lehman Cave National Monument now a part of Great Basin National Park.
The widespread diversity of historic, cultural, and natural treasures that have been protected by the Antiquities Act is the reason why groups representing sportsmen, cultural heritage organizations, evangelicals, conservation, recreation businesses, historic preservation, and many others all oppose efforts to undermine this vital law.
The public overwhelming supports national parks, monuments, and public lands and oceans. A 2014 Hart Research poll conducted for the Center for American Progress showed that 90% of voters supported Presidential proposals to protect some public lands and waters as parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness. In the 2017 Conservation in the West poll conducted by Colorado College, only 13% of western voters supported removing protections for existing monuments while 80% supported keeping them in place.
Basin and Range National Monument was protected in July 2015. The monument protects a uniquely American and pristine landscape in the heart of the Great Basin; protects many cultural and historical artifacts including petroglyphs, rock shelters, and 19th Century settlement sites; and provides vital habitat for Desert Bighorn Sheep, Gila Monsters, Rocky Mountain Elk, mule deer and many other species of concern. Its designation also protected outdoor recreation, the ranching tradition, and Michael Heizer’s land art project – City.
Gold Butte National Monument was protected in December 2016. Located in southeastern Nevada, Gold Butte is a treasure trove of cultural, historic, and natural wonders. These wonders include thousands of Native American artifacts; historic mining- and pioneer-era artifacts; rare and threatened wildlife such as the Mojave Desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep; dramatic geologic features like sculpted red sandstone and rock spires; and fossil track-sites dating back 170 to 180 million years.