A bold move to protect our national heritage. On September 18, 1996, President Clinton used his presidential powers to create the Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument on 1.7 million acres of federal land in southern Utah. The President made the announcement on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, a national treasure which was preserved by President Theodore Roosevelt on January 11, 1908 using the 1906 Antiquities Act, the same law President Clinton used to set aside the Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument . Presidents since Roosevelt have used the Antinquities Act nearly 100 times.
The Grand Staircase/ Escalante National Monument. The proclamation protects some of the most strikingly beautiful and scientifically inmportant unprotected areas in our country. The lands covered by the monument represent a unique combination of archeological, paleontological, geologic and bioloic resources, in a relatively unspoiled natural state. The monument lies to the west of the Colorado River and to the east of Bryce Canyon National Park and includes the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Escalante Canyon.
The monument protects a unique landscape that includes:
- outstanding rock formations that showcase some four billion years of geology;
- natural arches and bridges, high cliffs of white, red or yellow sandstone, deep canyons;
- thousands of dwellings, rock art and other artifacts from three prehistoric cultures;
- world-class fossil sites, including remarkable specimens of petrified wood, dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles, and mammals;
- hundreds of living species of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles.
The 1906 Antiquities Act: A bi-partisan Presidential tradition for saving our nation's natural heritage. Since Theodore Roosevelt, most Presidents have used the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect important public lands.
- Presidents Taft and Wilson first protected what is now Zion National Park.
- President Hoover first protected what is now Death Valley National Park.
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt first protected part of Grand Teton National Park.
- President Carter established more than a dozen national monuments in Alaska.
- National monuments are often controversial at the time they are establshed, but they protect many of America's best loved wonders. Even Grand Canyon National Park was opposed by many in the region, who said it was "a fiendish and diobolical scheme . . . the fate of Arizona depends exclusively upon the development of her mineral resources." [Williams Sun, 1/1/1897.]
The President's action will address the issue of large scale coal mining in the area. The Dutch-owned Andalex Corporation currently plans a large coal development on the Kaiparowits Plateau. With the national monument designation, the federal government will again seek to begin negotiations for the company to trade leases in this area for federal assets elsewhere. Since the 1960's dozens of companies holding 200,000 acres of leases have abandoned hopes of mining, largely because the remote location creates high costs.
President Clinton protects existing multiple uses like grazing, hunting, fishing. By protecting the land from industrialization, and with specific directions in his proclamation, President Clinton is protecting existing uses such as grazing, hunting and fishing for future generations. Grazing will continue uder existing federal law, and hunting and fishing will continue to be managed by the state. Neither state nor valid existing private rights are affected by the monument designation.
Management plan with public input. President Clinton has specified that the BLM will continue to manage the property, thereby minimizing any costs in changing the property to national monument status. A management plan developed over the next three years with public input will outline future costs and management needs. The monument will be established within the President's existing balanced budget.