The Grand Canyon. Zion. Death Valley. Acadia.

These are just four of more than 420 units of the National Park System that protect irreplaceable natural and cultural resources. In addition to being national parks,  these four sites also started as national monuments. Over 100 units in the National Park System were designated as national monuments through the use of the Antiquities Act. Later, these sites were established as national parks by Congress.

Irreplaceable.

Human impacts on the environment, such as harvesting natural resources, development, or other activities, are felt immediately, and, depending on the activity, the environment may never fully recover. I can’t imagine California without its soaring redwoods or majestic sequoias, the Shenandoah without its rolling mountain tops, the Everglades without alligators, or Yellowstone without the presence of bison and grizzlies.

Local efforts are underway to designate numerous, irreplaceable sites as national monuments to ensure their continued protection. The Coalition is working to support these efforts. In a February blog post, we highlighted sites critical to preserving African-American history. And now, we are anticipating the expansion of two national monuments in California to better preserve landscapes with cultural significance, incredible biodiversity, and important wildlife corridors.

While it seems likely that President Biden will expand the boundaries of the San Gabriels National Monument and Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in California, there are other sites critical to our cultural and natural history in need of better protections.

Chuckwalla  – With the support of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians and members of the California Congressional delegation, designation of the Chuckwalla National Monument in California would protect thousands of cultural places and link standalone ‘islands’ of public lands surrounding Joshua Tree National Park, thereby protecting important habits and migration corridors for numerous species.

Kw’tsán National Monument – The Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe is leading efforts to designate the Kw’tsán National Monument, which would preserve the cultural values, belief systems, and traditional practices of the Quechan people.

Dolores River Canyon – The Dolores River Canyon is the most biodiverse, unprotected landscape in Colorado. Beginning in the San Juan Mountains, the wildlife rich lands surrounding the Dolores River run through ponderosa gorges and slickrock canyons until joining the Colorado River.

Owyhee Canyonlands – This proposed national monument would protect millions of acres of rugged canyons, sagebrush grasslands, and rushing rivers. This action would safeguard wildlife corridors and habitat for the more than 200 species, including the imperiled greater sage-grouse, the golden eagle, the pronghorn antelope, and nearly 30 endemic plant species that are found nowhere else on earth.

We will continue to support and amplify these national monument campaigns. This week, and every week, we recognize the enormous gift of our national parks and public lands. We remain committed to preserving these special places and ensuring the stories and beauty of these sites will  be protected for generations to come.

Happy National Park Week!