Utah's San Rafael Swell.
Since there's never such a thing as too many wild and protected places, we think Obama's potential plan to create as many as 14 new national monuments is a good thing. Spread across nine western states, the designation would confer extra protection and management support to these ecologically diverse habitats.
Of course, a lot of these places won't be news to your average far-reaching hiker—they'll just be getting official designation and, in some cases, shiny new names. The new monuments could include:
-San Rafael Swell, UT
-Montana’s Northern Prairie, MT
-Lesser Prairie Chicken Preserve, NM
-Berryessa Snow Mountains, CA
-Heart of the Great Basin, NV
-Otero Mesa, NM
-Northwest Sonoran Desert, AZ
-Owyhee Desert, OR/NV
-Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, CA (expansion)
-Vermillion Basin, CO
-Bodie Hills, CA
-The Modoc Plateau, CA
-Cedar Mesa, UT
-San Juan Islands, WA
Alaska's Bristol Bay and Teshekpuk Lake and Wyoming's Red Desert (featured in a recent BACKPACKER issue) are also being considered for Conservation Designation status, which would protect them despite the fact that they're ineligible for national monument status.
Of course, not everybody's stoked about this—least of all Utah, whose governor has promised to fight the administration's plans tooth and nail. Utah senator Orrin Hatch also reportedly said, “You better believe I’ll do everything in my power … to prevent this designation.” Ouch.
What do you think? Are you worried monument status will expose your secret place to the wider world, or will it benefit from protections? Sound off in the comments section below.
Image Credit: jakesmome