THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE: PROTECTING AMERICA'S NATURAL AND CULTURAL HERITAGE
President Clinton today signed proclamations creating four new national monuments to protect federal lands representing unique, irreplaceable pieces of America's natural and cultural heritage. The four are the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon, the Hanford Reach National Monument in south central Washington, and the Ironwood Forest National Monument in southern Arizona.
A Century of Land Stewardship. In 1906, Congress passed the Antiquities Act, authorizing the President to create national monuments on lands owned by the federal government to protect "objects of historic and scientific interest." All but three Presidents since Theodore Roosevelt have used the Act to protect natural and historic treasures. These areas include Death Valley and Muir Woods in California; Glacier Bay, Misty Fjords, and Admiralty Island in Alaska; the Grand Tetons in Wyoming; portions of Washington's Olympic Peninsula; and Utah's Bryce and Zion canyons. More than 100 monuments have been designated in 24 states and the Virgin Islands, protecting some 70 million acres, about 10 percent of all federal lands.
The Four New Monuments. Last year, President Clinton requested Interior Secretary Babbitt to report to him on unique and fragile federal lands in need of protection. Last month, the Secretary recommended following lands, which the President is today protecting as monuments:
Canyons of the Ancients-- A treasure trove of ancient culture in the Four Corners region of Colorado, 9 miles west of Mesa Verde National Park, the 164,000-acre monument contains the highest known density of archeological sites anywhere in the United States, with rich, well-preserved remnants of human history going back thousands of years.
Cascade-Siskiyou -- The 52,000-acre monument in southern Oregon includes Soda Mountain and surrounding lands rich in plant and animal life. Its location at the convergence of the Klamath and Cascade Mountains makes the area an ecological wonder with biological diversity unmatched in the Cascade Range.
Hanford Reach -- The 195,000-acre monument in south central Washington straddles one of the last free-flowing stretches of the Columbia River -- a critical area for spawning salmon. It contains a wealth of wildlife and remnants of human history spanning more than 10,000 years.
Ironwood Forest -- The 129,000-acre monument in the Sonoran Desert 25 miles northwest of Tuscon contains rich stands of ironwood trees -- which can live more than 800 years -- and a stunning diversity of bird and animal life well adapted to the high, rugged desert country.
Each monument includes only lands already owned and managed by the federal government. Private property rights are not affected, and valid existing rights on the federal lands are preserved.
President Clinton has created five other national monuments -- Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona, Agua Fria in Arizona, Giant Sequoia in California, and the California Coastal monument -- and has expanded the Pinnacles monument in California. With these actions, the President has protected more land as national monuments in the lower 48 states than any president in history. The Administration strongly opposes legislative language now before Congress that would prohibit any spending to develop management plans, improve visitor services, enhance protections, or undertake other activities at any national monuments created this year.