Obama's Wilderness Legacy Remains Uncertain

Publication: The Washington Post

Author: Juliet Eilperin


06/10/2012 - For American presidents, protecting the country’s last wild places has long been a matter of legacy. Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument after failing to make it a national park. Jimmy Carter forced Congress to designate more than 66 million acres in Alaska as wilderness. George W. Bush preserved 140,000 square miles of ocean in Hawaii as a national monument.

President Obama’s record remains largely unwritten. He has declared two historic sites, totaling less than 15,000 acres, as national monuments. The one wilderness bill he signed — establishing 2.1 million acres of wilderness in nine states, including Virginia, Michigan and Oregon — came from a bipartisan deal struck by the Bush administration.

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Most presidents have made their most ambitious monument designations in their second terms.

Mike Matz, who directs the Campaign for America’s Wilderness at the Pew Environment Group, said he understands why the administration would be reluctant to create major monuments right now.

“I don’t think they want to raise a ruckus in the West and have opposition from the other side of the aisle criticize them on it,” he said.

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Read the full article, Obama's Wilderness Legacy Remains Uncertain, on the Washington Post's website.

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