The April 26th Executive Order which requires the Secretary of Interior to review monuments designated after 1996 and over 100,000 acres places the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument squarely within these parameters. We can expect a “review” what this means is a bit unclear. There is little precedence to refer to. In the past, presidents have actually expanded or reduced the size of designated national monuments. The key is that the Monument must be of reasonable size to protect the “objects” of the monument.
In the case of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument which contains 149 miles of river corridor and 350,000 acres of uplands surrounding the river there are many “objects” which the monument boundaries are protecting.
- Wild and Scenic River
- Lewis & Clark National Trail
- Nez Perce Trail
- Countless historic and cultural sites
- One of the last intact Northern prairie eco-systems
- Valuable wildlife and fish populations including record bighorn sheep, elk, deer, antelope and the endangered pallid sturgeon
Prior to the designation in 2001 by President Clinton, there was a thorough process of public input and lobbying. Public meetings were held to include area communities, agriculture producers, conservation organizations, agriculture organizations, recreationists, federal agencies including the Secretary of Interior, state agencies, counties, tribal entities and more. Public comments were also gathered and submitted to the process. Op-eds were produced state-wide in newspapers. It was a thorough vetting of the proposal for the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
Today, the landscape’s use remains much the same as before the designation. The Proclamation included grazing and that has continued throughout the monument and will not change unless Congress deems a change in the Proclamation. The designation has proven to bring more dollars to area communities allowing small business owners to capitalize on monument visitors and the increase in land values due to being adjacent or near a National Monument.
The Friends of the Upper Missouri River Breaks Monument has worked to be the bridge between the local area communities and the land management agency, the Bureau of Land Management. Together, we have completed stewardship projects on the ground, we have worked to together to form the current Resource Management Plan in the best interest of preserving the landscape and objects for future generations.
The Friends will continue to provide a voice to the monument through advocacy, educate the public and complete on the ground stewardship activities. We are in a tumultuous period of our government, so now more than ever it is critical that we hear from you regarding your public lands.
Please visit our website and click on the Take Action button to submit a comment to the Secretary of Interior. We all must step up and show just how much we value our public lands.