Published: Monday, 19 October 2015 18:10
June 23, 2015
By Nick Streit, Toby Basil, and Rafael Gomez, Jr. For The Hill
A sportsman, veteran and tribal council member walk into a national monument.
The sportsman looks around and says, “I bet this is a great place to hunt.”
The veteran looks around and says, “I would love to come here and reconnect with my family and friends.”
The tribal council member looks around and says, “I would love to bring my grandchildren here to see our native lands and waters.”
While we all come from different places with diverse backgrounds, we all have something in common: We want to safeguard our cultural, historical, and natural treasures for future generations to enjoy. As our country celebrates the 109th anniversary of the Antiquities Act this month, we are telling our stories because each of us has a unique and special bond to a national monument created through the Antiquities Act.
But the sad truth is that a time-honored tradition of setting aside public land for its natural or cultural significance is under attack in Congress.
As a business owner and sportsman in northern New Mexico, I – Nick Streit – value national monuments for the quality wildlife habitat they protect and the tourism and recreation dollars that they bring to my community. The Río Grande del Norte National Monument is prime wildlife habitat for bears, cougars, elk, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep. But let’s not forget the fish, and big fish, to boot. That is my bread and butter. The waters of the Rio Grande are home to wild brown, rainbow and Rio Grande cutthroat trout – an angler’s paradise. Luckily for me and the thousands of small business owners who depend on protected public lands, national monuments are proven economic drivers for local communities.
Being a veteran, I – Toby Basil – view national monuments as place to find strength and resilience. Places like Pullman National Monument in Chicago connect us to our national past and future. It tells a story about who we are as a nation, how far we’ve come, and where we can go from here. As someone who fought for our country, I feel strongly about what makes America great, and our conservation ethic is a big part of that. Preserving our shared natural and cultural heritage is patriotism and democracy at its best. Our service does not end when we come home, which is why I fought to protect Pullman for future generations to enjoy. I am proud to stand up for the Antiquities Act and fight for places like Pullman in Illinois, Browns Canyon in Colorado, and Fort Monroe in Virginia.
As a tribal council member of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in West Texas, I – Rafael Gomez, Jr. – can tell you that many tribes have a special love for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and are humbled by its natural and cultural gifts. Our new national monument recently marked its one-year anniversary, but its role in Native American history extends well beyond that. This is where our Pueblo ancestors walked, and raised their families, and these sacred lands are critical for our future. That is why our community of sportsmen and ranchers, small business owners and elected officials, and Native Americans and Latino groups came together to make sure that this special place was conserved for future generations.
It does not matter that we are from New Mexico, Texas, or Illinois. The work to safeguard the places we love – be it through legislation or the Antiquities Act — has always started with us, an engaged citizenry.
But recently some members of Congress have introduced proposals that would undermine the Antiquities Act. This goes against what our communities want and worked for, and would silence our voices. National monuments are designated to preserve our public lands so that every American can benefit from their protection. As a nation, we should not be abdicating our responsibility to act in the best interests of our country by allowing state and local officials to veto decisions to protect places that matter to entire cultures and our nation as a whole.
Whether we walk into Río Grande del Norte, Pullman, or Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monuments, we know these are special places that belong to all us. Likewise, local communities are asking Congress and the President to set aside places like Basin and Range in Nevada, Boulder-White Clouds in Idaho, and the Birthplace of Rivers in West Virginia.
So for us, this really isn’t a joke. The sportsman, veteran and tribal council member would simply end their story by saying, “Thank God these monuments are protected. Let’s leave the Antiquities Act alone.”
Streit owns Taos Fly Shop in Taos and The Reel Life in Santa Fe New Mexico. Basil is a veteran from Springfield, Illinois. Gomez is a Tribal Council member of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in West Texas.
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Published: Monday, 19 October 2015 18:02
May 15, 2015
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In this week’s edition of Earth Matters, co-producer Nathan Newcomer interviews students from the Aldo Leopold Charter School’s Eco-Monitoring Program.
Based in Silver City, Aldo Leopold Charter School launched their Eco-Monitoring program several years ago to give students the opportunity to participate in gathering data in the U.S. National Forest. They discuss much of the important work that the students do, including collecting data on soils, aquatics, range, forest, and wildlife.
They also discuss the importance of educating youth on the importance of conservation work, and how that translates into healthier communities and thriving local economies.
Tune in to this week’s Earth Matters to learn more.