Letters from the West

Obama says he's not done designating national monuments

As President Obama announced his designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument Wednesday, he bragged about how much of the nation’s he’s protected. He rattled off 11 national monuments, 3 million acres and one more thing.

“I’m not finished,” he said.

To the preservationists in that room it was music to their ears. To those who hope that they can make such a designation too politically tough, the Organ Mountains designation came over the objections of local sheriff and even Speaker of the House John Boehner who said it would hinder border security.

The Boulder-White Clouds again came up in many of the national stories about possible future monuments. The addition of Ketchum to Blaine County’s resolution in favor, adds another local voice.

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt included the Boulder-White Clouds in his own monument wish list and one other place:

“At Yellowstone National Park, the migratory herds of bison, elk, and other wildlife all need more space, which can be best obtained by designating the forest lands to the west as a national monument,” he wrote in Slate.

We call this area Idaho’s Yellowstone Caldera National Monument. Babbitt’s inclusion reminds residents of Fremont County that this special place of springs, water falls and critical wildlife habitat will remain on the nation’s preservation radar.