America's treasures need protections

Excerpts:

Arizona got a big parting gift in the final years of the Clinton administration: five national monuments.

With the president's signature, Ironwood Forest, Sonoran Desert, Agua Fria, Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Canyon-Parashant were set aside for us to enjoy in their natural splendor. Their rich habitat, stunning scenery and archaeology are protected for future generations.

The 1906 Antiquities Act gives presidents the authority to designate national monuments. It's a power that has served Arizona well. Theodore Roosevelt used it in 1908 to preserve 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon. We have had 25 national monuments designated under the act - more than any other state. They've largely encompassed federal land, providing a higher level of protection; some later became national parks.