January 11, 2000
President Clinton will sign a proclamation today creating the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona. The President also will sign proclamations creating the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona and the California Coastal National Monument, and expanding Pinnacles National Monument in California.
Protecting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The new Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is located on the edge of one of the most beautiful places on Earth - the Grand Canyon. Situated on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona, within the drainage of the Colorado River, the monument borders Grand Canyon National Park to the south, and the state of Nevada to the west, and encompasses a portion of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
This 1,014,000 acres of federal land is a scientific treasure holding many of the same values that have long been protected in Grand Canyon National Park. Deep canyons, mountains, and lonely buttes testify to the power of geological forces and provide colorful vistas. Its Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rock layers are relatively undeformed and unobscured by vegetation, offering a clear view to understanding the process of the geologic history of the Colorado Plateau. The monument encompasses the lower portion of the Shivwits Plateau, an important watershed for the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Beyond the phenomenal geological resources, the monument contains countless biological, archeological, and historical resources. This area could be increasingly threatened by potential mineral development.
Managing the New Monument. Currently, the federal lands within the monument are managed by the Department of the Interior through the National Park Service (NPS, within the boundaries of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This arrangement will continue, but will be subject to the overriding purposes of protecting the scientific and historic objects for which the monument has been created. Livestock grazing, hunting, fishing, and similar activities that are currently permitted will generally not be affected, nor will the designation affect state or private property or other valid existing rights such as water rights. New mining claims and geothermal leases will be prohibited, and the current prohibition on off-road vehicle use will be made permanent.
Public Process. President Teddy Roosevelt first set aside a portion of what is now the Grand Canyon National Park under the Antiquities Act in 1908. In 1919, Congress converted the Grand Canyon National Monument to a national park. Additional lands were made national monuments by Presidential Proclamation in 1932 and 1969. Congress enlarged the Park in 1975 to include these lands, but that Act left open whether several drainages north of the Grand Canyon should be protected and directed that the Secretary of the Interior study and issue a report on these lands. Most of the studied lands are included within the monument.
In November 1998, Secretary Babbitt came to Northern Arizona and began a dialogue that has included two more Secretarial visits, two large public meetings, and more than 59 other meetings with concerned local governments, tribes and other groups regarding the future of these lands. Congressman Bob Stump introduced a bill (H.R. 2795) that would have established a National Conservation Area in this area in August 1999, but this bill actually would lower protections in existing law. Senator Kyl also introduced legislation on this subject (S. 1560), which does not provide the same level of protection as monument status. No hearings have been held on Senator Kyl's bill yet.
January 11, 2000
President Clinton will sign a proclamation today creating the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona. The President will also sign proclamations creating the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona and the California Coastal National Monument, and expanding Pinnacles National Monument in California.
Saving Prehistoric Treasures. The new 71,100-acre Agua Fria National Monument contains one of the most significant systems of late prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. Its ancient ruins offer insights into the lives of those who long ago inhabited this part of the desert Southwest. The monument is located in central Arizona approximately forty miles north of central Phoenix. The monument encompasses two mesas-Perry Mesa and the adjacent, smaller Black Mesa - the public land to the north of these mesas, and the canyon of the Agua Fria River. Elevations range from 600 feet above sea level along the Agua Fria Canyon to about 4,300 feet in the northern hills.
At least 450 prehistoric sites are known to exist within the monument, and there are likely many more. Many intact petroglyph sites within the monument contain rock art symbols etched into the surfaces of boulders and cliff faces. The area also holds an extraordinary record of prehistoric agricultural features, including extensive terraces bounded by lines of rocks and other types of landscape modifications. In addition to its rich record of human history, the monument contains other objects of scientific interest: a diversity of vegetative communities, a wide array of sensitive wildlife species, and native fish. The area, vital open space on the northern edge of the rapidly expanding Phoenix urban area, has already suffered from extensive vandalism.
Managing the New Monument. The monument continues to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management for the predominant purpose of protecting the objects for which the monument has been created. Currently permitted livestock grazing, hunting, fishing, and similar activities will generally not be affected, nor will private property within the boundary (1,440 acres) or other valid existing rights such as water rights. New mining claims and geothermal leasing will be prohibited, and the current prohibition on off-road vehicle use will be made permanent. Water rights necessary to protect monument objects will be reserved for the federal government.
Public Process. Secretary Babbitt initiated a process in July 1999 to solicit public input and advice about the future management and protection of the Agua Fria region, meeting with leading archeologists, Arizona State officials, and staff from the Arizona congressional delegation. Three public open houses were held in nearby communities in September 1999 specifically to discuss the area's possible designation as a national monument. In October 1999, the Bureau of Land Management forwarded to the Secretary a report of the meeting discussions and an assessment of future management.
January 11, 2000
President Clinton will sign a proclamation today creating the California Coastal National Monument. The President will also sign proclamations creating the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona and expanding Pinnacles National Monument in California.
Preserving Coastal Riches. The new California Coastal National Monument is a biological treasure. Beginning just off shore and ending at the boundary between the continental shelf and the continental slope, it is a crucial part of the fragile coastal ecosystem. The monument will encompass all of the islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles off the California coast above the high water mark that are owned by the U.S. Government, running along the entire 840 mile California coast and extending out for 12 miles. (Because of the scattered small bits of land involved, acreage cannot be readily calculated.) Islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles already appropriated or reserved for other purposes will not be affected.
The monument contains many geologic formations that provide unique habitat for biota, such as sensitive feeding and nesting habitat for an estimated 200,000 breeding seabirds, including gulls, the endangered California least tern, and the brown pelican. Development of the mainland has forced seabirds that once fed and nested in the shoreline ecosystem to retreat to the monument. There is also forage and breeding habitat for several mammal species such as the threatened southern sea otter. Future economic or commercial development as well as some recreational use threaten the objects of the monument.
Managing the New Monument. The federal lands in the area are under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior. With the new monument designation, management will continue under the BLM's existing authorities for the predominant purpose of protecting the objects for which the monument has been created. Currently, California State Department of Fish and Game manages the area under a Memorandum of Understanding with the BLM. This arrangement with the State of California will continue (with any necessary revisions to the MOU). The monument does not enlarge or diminish state or federal regulatory authority over fishing, oil and gas development, or other uses of adjacent waters. Valid existing rights including any oil and gas leases are unaffected.
Public Process. There is a history of actions to protect this type of coastal area. In Oregon, for example, the entire coast is similarly protected through management by the Fish and Wildife Service. Several other islands off the California Coast, including Cat Rock, already enjoy this type of protection. June 1999, Congressman Sam Farr of Monterey, California, introduced, for the second time, a bill (H.R. 2277) to designate these islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles off the coast of California as wilderness. No hearings were held on this bill. In September 1999, Secretary Babbitt, accompanied by Congressman Farr as well as state and community leaders, visited the coastline to discuss protection for the rocks and islands including possible designation as a national monument.
January 11, 2000
President Clinton will sign a proclamation today expanding Pinnacles National Monument in California. The President will also sign proclamations creating the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona and the California Coastal National Monument.
Expanding a 92-Year-Old National Treasure. President Theodore Roosevelt created the Pinnacles National Monument in 1908 to protect the spire-like rock formations that rise 500 to 1,200 feet high, the caves that lay below them, and a variety of volcanic features that rise above the smooth contours of the surrounding countryside. Two primary drainage channels cut water gaps through the rocks which were roofed over as large rocks spilled off the adjacent cliffs, slid down the slopes, and became wedged in the tops of gaps to form the talus caves of the monument. The monument, managed by the National Park Service, is located 65 miles south of San Jose.
Enlarging the monument's boundary is vital to the continued preservation of Pinnacles National Monument's resources. In addition to containing pieces of the same faults that have created the tremendous geological formations throughout the monument, the expansion lands hold some of the headwaters of the monument basin. Over millions of years, flash floods and currents of streams have helped to sculpt the geological features of the monument. The expansion lands also hold important habitat for raptors (such as prairie falcons, golden eagles, and red-tailed hawks), amphibians, and reptiles. The area is threatened by ex-urban development and by watershed degradation.
Managing the Expanded Monument. The 7,960 acres of expansion lands will be transferred from the Bureau of Land Management to the National Park Service and managed under the same laws and regulations that apply to the rest of the monument. Wilderness Study Areas in the expansion lands will continue to be managed in accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Although 2,850 acres of private land are inside the expansion boundary, the private landowners will be unaffected by the designation unless they choose to sell, in which case the lands will become part of the monument. Valid existing rights will be unaffected. Hunting and future mineral and geothermal leasing will be prohibited, and water rights necessary to protect monument will be reserved for the federal government.
Public Process. When originally designated in 1908, Pinnacles consisted of 2,060 acres. The monument has since been expanded five times by subsequent Presidents and once by Congress. Further proposed expansions have been discussed at length in local communities in recent years. An expansion, along with wilderness designation, has on two occasions been proposed by Congressman Sam Farr of Monterey, California. No committee hearings have been held on his bill (H.R. 2279). Secretary Babbitt visited Pinnacles National Monument and the adjacent public lands in October 1999 to discuss the expansion proposal with private ranchers and other landowners as well as community and environmental leaders.
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