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From Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune


Photo by Martin Sundberg

OBAMA’S MONUMENTAL OPPORTUNITY

If you could be president of the United States for one day, what would you do? I'd probably want to sneak in some batting practice at Yankee Stadium, quickly, because even for the most powerful person in the world, a single day isn't a lot of time to -- as the late Steve Jobs put it -- "make a dent in the universe."

The president, however, has a unique power. When Congress passed the Antiquities Act 106 years ago, it gave the commander in chief sole authority to designate public land as a national monument. If I were president for a day, I'd take the opportunity to protect America’s best wild places like these: 

Here are just a few spectacular places worthy of protection:

ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, ALASKA

America Arctic is our nation's final conservation frontier. The coastal waters, rolling tundra, wild rivers, and precious wetlands, ponds, and deep lakes of the Arctic support a stunning array of wildlife. Nearly 200 bird species nest on the tundra and wetlands, while caribou, musk oxen, wolverines, and grizzly roam the vast expanses of wild lands.

OTERO MESA, NEW MEXICO

Otero Mesa is the largest and wildest desert grassland left on public lands in the United States. In fact, over 500,000 acres of Otero Mesa qualify for Wilderness designation, making the area one of the most valuable in New Mexico.

GRAND CANYON WATERSHED, ARIZONA

The Grand Canyon Watershed region offers quiet recreation opportunities. Its old-growth forests  and unique wildlife, including the Kaibab squirrel and the endangered California Condor, draw outdoor lovers from near and far.

OWYHEE CANYONLANDS, OREGON

Owyhee Canyonlands are one of the most remote and beautiful places in the country. The whitewater of the Owyhee River system draws river runners from across the U.S. and the secluded canyons provide homes for some of the nation’s largest herds of bighorn sheep, as well as 6,000 pronghorn antelope, seven species of bats, sage grouse, song birds, and more.

GREATER CANYONLANDS, UTAH

With mesas that rise 7,000 feet in the air and canyons that drop to 3,700, the Canyonlands provides home to over 950 species of desert plants and a wide variety of wildlife, including mountain lions, desert big horn sheep and the endangered Mexican grey wolf. This amazing area represents a diverse landscape with outstanding habitats, as well as remarkable vistas and recreational opportunities.

OTERO MESA, NEW MEXICO

Otero Mesa is the largest and wildest desert grassland left on public lands in the United States. In fact, over 500,000 acres of Otero Mesa qualify for Wilderness designation, making the area one of the most valuable in New Mexico.

ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, ALASKA

America Arctic is our nation's final conservation frontier. The coastal waters, rolling tundra, wild rivers, and precious wetlands, ponds, and deep lakes of the Arctic support a stunning array of wildlife. Nearly 200 bird species nest on the tundra and wetlands, while caribou, musk oxen, wolverines, and grizzly roam the vast expanses of wild lands.

GRAND CANYON WATERSHED, ARIZONA

The Grand Canyon Watershed region offers quiet recreation opportunities. Its old-growth forests  and unique wildlife, including the Kaibab squirrel and the endangered California Condor, draw outdoor lovers from near and far.

OWYHEE CANYONLANDS, OREGON

Owyhee Canyonlands are one of the most remote and beautiful places in the country. The whitewater of the Owyhee River system draws river runners from across the U.S. and the secluded canyons provide homes for some of the nation’s largest herds of bighorn sheep, as well as 6,000 pronghorn antelope, seven species of bats, sage grouse, song birds, and more.

GREATER CANYONLANDS, UTAH

With mesas that rise 7,000 feet in the air and canyons that drop to 3,700, the Canyonlands provides home to over 950 species of desert plants and a wide variety of wildlife, including mountain lions, desert big horn sheep and the endangered Mexican grey wolf. This amazing area represents a diverse landscape with outstanding habitats, as well as remarkable vistas and recreational opportunities.

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