Locals Support Land Protection: Let’s Celebrate the Antiquities Act Together
By Darla DeRuiter
Executive Director, Friends of Plumas Wilderness
This week marks the 116th anniversary of the Antiquities Act, which authorized presidents to protect public lands as national monuments. Have you ever visited a national monument? Do you have any thoughts on what this could mean for our region?
The Antiquities Act was first rolled out by America’s great outdoorsman, Republican President Teddy Roosevelt. Since its adoption, it has been used successfully by presidents of both parties, including more recently President Trump, to protect public lands.
A total of 18 presidents — nine Democrats and nine Republicans — have designated or expanded 158 national monuments across the country.
These include iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon, Giant Sequoia, Muir Woods, Great Sand Dunes, Lassen Peak, Death Valley and many more. National parks sometimes start out as national monuments.
National monuments are also a great way to protect landscapes and artifacts of historical and cultural significance to tribal nations, the original stewards of these lands.
Public land protection tools like this are a great way to preserve special landscapes for our future generations.
More protection needed
For three months now, Friends of Plumas Wilderness has been reaching out to our community to solicit input on how to better protect public lands in our own backyards. In a publicly available survey, so far more than 75% of respondents said they wanted more land protected in the Upper Feather River catchment.
The poll, which is still open and can be taken here, asks for input on public land and water values and levels of support for a range of Forest Service land protection tools.
To celebrate this important anniversary, join us in the important discussion on how to better protect the Upper Feather River watershed.
Survey Results: What do you think of the current levels of protection in the Upper Feather River watershed?
So far, we’ve seen that clean water and clean air are really important for people, along with wildlife habitat and improved forest management. It is clear that people feel our forests are not well managed, with 95% of respondents saying that improvements are needed here.
Currently, about 4% of the watershed is permanently protected, compared to 12% nationally and 24% in California. On U.S. Forest Service lands, permanent protection may be achieved through Wilderness, Wild & Scenic River, Research Natural Area, or National Monument designation.
Results of the initial investigation
Survey results revealed high levels of support for additional Wild and Scenic Rivers, with nearly 92% supporting and just over 3% opposing, while 5% remained neutral.
The wilderness designation received over 87% support, nearly 7% opposition, while nearly 6% remained neutral. Nearly 80% are in favor of additional natural research areas, around 5% are against it and 15% are neutral.
Finally, almost 71% were in favor of the designation of a national monument, about 8% opposed it and almost 21% were neutral. Perhaps a lack of familiarity with NRAs and national monument designations leads to high levels of neutral responses.
Survey Results: What do you think of these four Forest Service designations?
Understanding NRAs and National Monuments
Natural Research Areas protect smaller areas (average 2600 acres) of special botanical or geological interest. Their designation maintains a national biodiversity network and allows for long-term study. A local example is Mt. Pleasant RNA in Bucks Lake Wilderness, protected for the red fir and bog found there.
National monuments can vary in size, from a few hectares to millions. When Congress passed the Antiquities Act on June 8, 1906, it created the first national historic preservation policy for the United States and ensured that the President could designate national monuments to protect natural, cultural and historic sites, as well as valuable waters and lands. scientific value.
In national monuments protecting natural landscapes, public access is maintained and lands and waters are protected for fish and wildlife and future generations. Fuel reduction and forest health work can continue and fire suppression can take place. Yet the area is protected from future resource exploitation and extraction, such as commercial logging and water development.
Each federal land management agency oversees national monuments, including the US Forest Service.
share your thoughts
The four land protection tools can be used to move the protection gap in our watershed from the current 4% to something closer to the national or California level. At Friends of Plumas Wilderness we are looking for feedback and what people would like to see. If you haven’t taken the survey yet, do so. And tell your family and friends about it!
Over 300 people have responded to the survey since March 1. Almost 57% are full-time residents and 20% are part-time or have family/friend ties to the area. Visit www.plumaswilderness.org for more information or a link to the survey here.
Friends of Plumas Wilderness aims to permanently protect the scenic rivers and rugged canyons of the watershed. Take our survey and tell us what you think!