Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Grand Staircase-Escalante decision

One of the largest national monuments will remain a monument.

Monday, a federal appeals court said opponents had no standing to challenge the creation of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. A decade ago, President Clinton shocked and angered Utah politicians by creating the monument, the second largest in the lower 48 states. The monument's creation was especially contentious, because the announcement was kept a secret until just days before it was made. Here's what President Clinton said on the day of the announcement:

On this site, on this remarkable site, God's handiwork is everywhere in the natural beauty of the Escalante Canyons and in the Kaiparowits Plateau, in the rock formations that show layer by layer billions of years of geology, in the fossil record of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life, in the remains of ancient American civilizations like the Anasazi Indians. Though the United States has changed and Utah has grown, prospered and diversified, the land in the Utah monument remains much as it did when Mormon pioneers made their way to the Red Canyons in the high desert in the late 1800s.

Its uniquely American landscape is now one of the most isolated places in the lower 48 states. In protecting it, we live up to our obligation to preserve our natural heritage. We are saying very simply, our parents and grandparents saved the Grand Canyon for us; today, we will save the grand Escalante Canyons and the Kaiparowits Plateaus of Utah for our children."

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