The following statement is from The Wilderness Society president Jamie Williams on President Obama designating five new national monuments:
“With the stroke of a pen, President Obama celebrated the full diversity of America’s natural and cultural heritage. President Obama used the Antiquities Act to protect five made-in-America landmarks that will reconnect people to our natural and cultural heritage.
“The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico will be an economic engine and recreation haven. Spanning 240,000 acres, it will protect critical wildlife habitat, serve as a place for people to get outdoors and preserve the Rio Grande River, the lifeblood of surrounding and downstream communities.
“The historic and peaceful public lands in Washington State’s San Juan Islands will be forever enjoyed by future generations. The 1,000-acre San Juan Islands National Monument will continue to spur the local economy, which depends on the outstanding natural beauty and cultural landmarks for its tourism and recreation.
“Preserving our cultural heritage goes hand-in-hand with protecting our natural legacy. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland and the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio help Americans remember the African-American struggle for freedom and justice in the United States. The First State National Monument represents the first National Park Service unit in Delaware and provides invaluable natural green space to the residents of that state and other Americans.
“The Wilderness Society would like to thank President Obama for taking a step toward putting conservation on equal ground with energy development.”