3 New National Monuments Named
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) _ Saying he is continuing the ``great journey″ of conservation started by Theodore Roosevelt, President Clinton today marked the 92nd anniversary of the Grand Canyon’s designation as a national monument by safeguarding other picturesque open spaces.
The president spent an hour watching the sun rise over the canyon’s multicolored ridges and plateaus, then took a helicopter tour of the canyon and hiked along Tuweep Valley. Wearing a brown suede jacket and cowboy boots, he stood at Hopi Point, on the canyon’s South Rim, and declared three new national monuments and expansion of another.
Clinton said it was fitting that he made those declarations today, because on Jan. 11, 1908, Roosevelt made the Grand Canyon a national monument, protecting it from mining or other activities that he felt would mar it.
``None of you who can see what is behind me can doubt the wisdom of that decision,″ Clinton said. ``On this day, and in this place, we continue that great journey.″
The lands already belong to the federal government but Clinton’s action will protect the designated areas from mining and some other uses. The executive action was being carried out, in some cases, despite protests from local and state officials.
Clinton said he regrets that some people oppose his action, but feels most Americans support his moves to protect pristine lands. ``We’ve tried to be _ and we will always be _ sensitive to the concerns and legitimate interests of local people, but I think we’ve done a good job here,″ he said.
Clinton signed the acts at a wooden desk in a dusty valley dotted with sagebrush, with the Shivwitz Plateau rising behind him. Speaking to reporters, he rebuffed critics who said he was taking action in order to build his legacy.
``This whole area of our national life has been very, very important to me,″ Clintons aid. ``I talked about this when I ran for president and it’s been a big part of our administration.″
Clinton acted on recommendations from Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to name as national monuments a jagged 1,500-square-mile desert area dotted with junipers known as the Grand Canyon-Parashant; Agua Fria, 71,000 acres encompassing two mesas filled with Indian ruins, petroglyphs and other prehistoric treasures north of Phoenix; and hundreds of rocks and small islands along the California coast.
``If there is one thing that unites our fractious, argumentative country, ... it is the love we have for our land,″ Clinton said. ``The only thing we can add to it is our protection.″
The Pinnacles National Monument, located south of San Jose, Calif., which was named a national monument by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, was expanded under the order Clinton was signing today. Roosevelt also declared Grand Canyon a monument in 1908. It later became a national park.
Although the president’s action was praised by environmentalists, some Arizona state and local officials accused him of ignoring local interests.
``We think it is totally disrespectful of the local community,″ said Mohave County Supervisor Carol Anderson, whose district covers the monument area.
The mayor of Fredonia, Ariz., a tiny community about 50 miles from the monument boundary, said local people resent federal mandates and are worried about effects on the ranching and timber industries.
``They’ll declare this monument. They’ll go home, and we’ll be left to take care of it,″ Mayor Joy Jordan said before Clinton’s declaration.
Laurent Gaudreau, a 73-year-old outdoor-gear salesman at the Canyon’s South Rim, disagreed. ``Once land is gone, it is gone forever,″ he said.
Clinton was acting under the Antiquities Act, passed by Congress in 1906 and used by several presidents to protect federal lands and, in the words of the act, ``objects of historic and scientific interest.″
Clinton’s action does not affect existing water and grazing rights and mining claims, but does bar new ones on the designated lands. Hunting is prohibited on the expanded section of the Pinnacles site and a ban on off-road vehicles at the two Arizona sites becomes permanent.
Clinton’s decision already has met with resistance in Arizona. Gov. Jane Hull and her seven Republican colleagues who represent the state in Congress wrote last week to urge Clinton not to act in the Grand Canyon and Agua Fria areas. The Republicans want more public input into the decision.