National Monuments At Risk


The continuing menace that is Donald Trump has now taken aim at what is most near and dear to my heart – namely, the outdoor heritage that I, and all Americans, cherish. Trump has taken aim at our National Monuments, one of which is the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, in New Mexico.

I live 7 miles from the Monument, am a commercial river outfitter in the Monument and spend very many winter days photographing wildlife there, such as this wintering bald eagle:

Bald eagle

The centerpiece of the Monument is the Rio Grande, in the Rio Grande Gorge:

The Rio Grande Gorge, at Taos Junction Bridge, and the Picuris Mountains

Powerline Falls, in the Taos Box section of the the Rio Grande

There are many more Monuments on DT’s hit list. One is the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, again in New Mexico. I spent a fair amount of time in that area when I worked at New Mexico Tech, in Socorro, taking students on hikes and climbs. And Kathy and I later journeyed there to climb Sugarloaf Peak:

Climbing Sugarloaf Peak, Kathy

Kathy, on the summit of Sugarloaf Peak, with the Organ Needles behind

Then there is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, in Utah, and the adjoining Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, in Arizona. The former includes the remote Kaiparowits Plateau. Prior to the designation of the Monument, the few people who live in the area had, for considerable time, been pushing to see the proposed Kaiparowits coal-fired power plant built. Old-time conservation activists remember when a group of these folks burned David Brower (then Director of the Sierra Club) in effigy on the US Capitol steps. The Monument put an end to that.

Vermilion Cliffs includes what must be the most extraordinary piece of rock architecture in the country – the Wave:

The Wave

Near the Wave, which is found in the area known as Coyote Buttes, is Buckskin Gulch/Paria Canyon:

Buckskin Gulch

New Mexico Tech students, Paria Canyon

Another area of great scenic appeal included in the above are the Escalante Canyons:

Fisher Arch, on the Escalante River

Davis Gulch, in the Escalante Canyons

And another is the Toadstools:

Toadstool

and the Cottonwood Narrows:

Cottonwood Narrows

and the upper steps of the Grand Staircase:

The Grand Staircase, from near Cannonville, Utah

The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, in Arizona, protects a large swath of the north rim of the Grand Canyon and adjacent wild lands to the north and west, including the north shoreline of the Colorado River/Lake Mead, west of Grand Canyon National Park. Here’s Pearce Ferry Rapid:

Pearce Ferry Rapid, when it was still runnable (2007), with the Cockscomb in the distance

Pearce Ferry Rapid, 2007. Because of rapid erosion, it has since become un-runnable.

The final National Monument on DT’s hit list that I’m personally acquainted with is the recently designated Bears Ears National Monument, in southern Utah, which includes mountains, plateaus, canyons, rivers, a wilderness area, paleo-indian archeological sites and contemporary Native American religious sites. The Monument borders Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Canyonlands National Park and the Manti-La Sal National Forest, unifying, under federal protection, a significant assemblage of southern Utah’s unique and highly-scenic wild lands. Protection of these spectacular locales was long over-due:

Valley of the Gods State Park is contained within the Monument

The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, from Muley Point

Goosenecks269

Goosenecks State Park is also contained within the Monument

The Moki Dugway climbs from the Valley of the Gods to Muley Point, on Cedar Mesa

Muley Point

San Juan River, at Mexican Hat launch site

Petroglyphs at the Sand Island launch site, on the San Juan River

Cedar Mesa, from the Clay Hills

Ruin, in Grand Gulch

Pottery and stone tools, Grand Gulch

On the road to Hite, west of Natural Bridges National Monument

Jacobs Chair, on the road to Hite, west of Natural Bridges National Monument

On the road to Hite, west of Natural Bridges National Monument

Yes … I am VERY pissed-off.

All photos by the author.

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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