During his two terms, President Clinton created 19 monuments and expanded three others, putting more than 5.6 million acres under protection. Congress also created one.
Most of the new monuments are managed by Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management under its National Landscape Conservation System, another Clinton brainchild, created in June 2000.
The little-known system rivals the National Park Service as caretaker for many of the nation's most rugged landscapes: monuments, conservation areas, wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, wild and scenic rivers, and national scenic and historic trails.
In April, Interior Secretary Gale Norton began the process of creating land management plans for 11 monuments Clinton created or expanded: Arizona's Agua Fria, Grand Canyon-Parashant, Vermillion Cliffs, Ironwood Forest and Sonoran Desert; California's California Coastal and Carrizo Plain; Colorado's Canyon of the Ancients; Idaho's Craters of the Moon; Montana's Upper Missouri River Breaks; and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou.
The Interior Department had begun planning how to manage Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains in California. Next year it will start work on management plans for Pompey's Pillar in Montana and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks in New Mexico.
Environmental groups say some of these new monuments face immediate threats such as seismic "thumper" trucks scraping sandstone and crushing fragile desert vegetation while searching for oil deposits. They also bemoan efforts in Congress to reduce their acreage.
BLM officials say oil and gas development will be an issue at Colorado's Canyon of the Ancients, which has significant reserves, though 85 percent of the monument already is under lease for drilling.
Other issues at some of the newly created monuments are threats of vandalism at prehistoric sites and on- and off-road vehicles within an easy day's drive of urban areas, such as Agua Fria near Phoenix and Ironwood Forest near Tucson.
On the Net:
National Landscape Conservation System: http://www.blm.gov/nlcs/index.html
Antiquities Act of 1906 History: http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/antiq.htm
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