Protect These Lands: Our National Monuments at Stake

The public comment period for President Trump’s proposed review of two decade’s worth of national monument designations ended on July 11, not with a whimper but rather a veritable bang. The review’s public comment period, which lasted for 60 days, elicited more than 2.5 million responses (with Ibex’s signature proudly among them). Of the comments, 98 percent were in favor of maintaining or expanding current national monument boundaries. At Ibex, our employees live, work, and play near many of these public lands, which is why we continue to lend our voice to the chorus of support for their longevity.

The United States’ National Monuments resemble national parks in terms of their sublime scenery and safeguarding of history; however, their designation defies the stringency of the National Parks Service: National Monuments can be created from any land owned or controlled by the federal government. Near our Ibex flagship stores in Washington state and Colorado, and our headquarters in Vermont, three of the National Monuments threatened under the current review stand proudly as bastions of preservation, recreation, and conservation.

 Photo Courtesy of Tom Foster

Hanford Reach National Monument, located about three hours southeast of Seattle, showcases a fascinating chapter in human history as well as a vibrant display of biodiversity. Plutonium reactors, remnants of atomic weapon production for WWII and the Cold War, tower above the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River; this stretch of water is the nation’s last, non-tidal, free-flowing segment of the Columbia River. Forty-three species of fish have been documented as occurring in the Hanford Reach. Hanford Reach was the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s first National Monument; it embodies their mission of guiding the conservation, development, and management of fish and wildlife resources, as well as providing opportunities to the public to understand and wisely use those resources.

In Colorado, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument serves as a living history museum; this Bureau of Land Management-governed monument showcases a part of the state occupied by humans for over 10,000 years. Visitors can access a wealth of information about the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) and other native cultures of the Four Corners region at the Anasazi Heritage Center, Southwest Colorado’s premier archaeological museum. Since most of the wild and rugged landscape of 178,000 acre monument is open to exploration by foot but lacks well-market foot trails, a visit to the museum is integral to experiencing the monument to its fullest potential.

Here at our Ibex headquarters, we are familiar with the wonders of winter, and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is one of our favorite seasonal playgrounds. The National Park Service-managed monument boasts groomed cross country ski trails, 22 miles of snowmobile access, ice fishing, winter camping, including huts and lean-tos, and fat bike access. The “woods and waters” of the monument offer solitude and serenity at any time of year, whether for bird watching, cycling down gravel roads, or simply sitting on the shores of the East Branch of the Penobscot River.

The protection and preservation of America’s national monuments has a direct impact on the outdoor recreation economy, generating jobs and economic growth. Furthermore, as those in the outdoor recreation industry know, these places don’t simply provide us with a paycheck but with something much more meaningful. One of Ibex’s core values is to “Protect the places we love;” these places are America’s public lands, and we are their biggest advocates.