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Top 5 American Treasures to Protect in 2012

Top 5 American Treasures to Protect in 2012
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Written by Jessica Goad

The United States is home to some of the most stunning and unique natural areas in the world, including 397 national parks, 101 national monuments, and 556 national wildlife refuges. But many more public lands—managed by the federal government and owned by all Americans—are worthy of protection for future generations. This Earth Day it’s worth thinking about the places that have strong local coalitions calling for protection that should be granted this year.

The road to protection could be a long one, though. Due to partisan gridlock Congress has not sent the president a single piece of land-designation legislation since March 30, 2009, when President Barack Obama signed into law a bill protecting 2 million acres of wilderness and 1,000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers from development. Both Republicans and Democrats have introduced more than 20 wilderness bills in the 112th Congress, but not only has a single one not passed, none has even come up for a vote.

President Obama has slowly begun building his conservation legacy by establishing a national monument at Fort Monroe and protecting the Grand Canyon from new uranium mines. But he has the authority to do much more.

Here are the top five places that have both local community and political support, and are therefore good candidates for protection during the remainder of this calendar year:

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico (pictured above)

Located on the very southern edge of New Mexico outside of Las Cruces in Doņa Ana County, the Organ Mountains and Desert Peaks are iconic symbols of the state and its diverse heritage. Covering more than 400,000 acres, the area consists of rugged and wild mountains, high grasslands, black lava fields, wildlife habitat, and Spanish and Native American cultural sites.

The Organ Mountains could be protected in a number of ways. The fastest and surest way would be for President Obama to use his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate the area as a new national monument. Congress also has taken steps to protect them: Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) sponsored the Organ Mountains-Doņa Ana County Conservation and Protection Act (S. 1024), and even right-wing Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) has shown his support for the area by introducing the Organ Mountains National Monument Establishment Act (H.R. 4334).

No matter how it happens, protecting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks would be a significant homage to the people and history of New Mexico during the state’s centennial anniversary this year.


Photo from BLM New Mexico via flickr

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3:33PM PDT on Aug 15, 2012

thanks. beautiful

2:15PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

it is a shame nothing east of the rockies were mentioned. There is a chain of mountains the Appalachian that need protected from mountain top removal. by doung that we save a lot of waterways also.I think part of the smookies are indanger also.

11:12AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

Save our agriculture--mitigate global warming--with "artificial trees" to collect CO2 from air and Enhanced Geothermal Systems to sequester the CO2 long term.

2:46AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

thanks for sharing

3:22PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Excellent! I especially hope that Alpine Lakes will be expanded.

1:22PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

All great ....though what about the Mustangs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
An all time American Treasure to Protect in any year....including 2012

12:24PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Corporate governance = corporate dream

11:50AM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Surely there must be unexploded ordinance on a former army base?
Does not sound like a destination place for this biker.

11:39AM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

There are a lot of places in the US that need to be preserved. Unfortunately, the Republicans don't seem to see it that way. There is a bill, called "The Sportsmens Bill" that would open up public lands for mining and drilling. Lands that were not previously open for these operations would be open. This includes the Grand Canyon and other areas that we cherish. This would involve clearing a huge area of trees for both the operations site and roads so that heavy machinery and trucks could have access. You can call your Congressmen and Senators, put a letter to the editor in the newspaper and sign petitions. Apathy is the practice of doing nothing. After apathy comes the state of pathetic. If this goes thru, we'll have to change the title of the song "America the ?"

6:09AM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

thank you for posting

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