The American West should be grateful to President Barack Obama. His stewardship of land and waters has ranged from Puerto Rico to the farthest reaches of Alaska, but his conservation efforts in the Western United States stand out. He took up long-overdue energy reforms on the public lands that are owned by all Americans, and he connected the dots between energy development and the greenhouse gasses produced by it that contribute to climate change.
Of course, much of the credit for Obama’s success has to go to the work of local coalitions and advocates throughout the country. But the president proved himself to be a true champion who pushed many conservation measures over the finish line.
Just months into office, Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which designated more than 2 million acres of federal land as wilderness. Ecologically important land was protected in California’s Sierra Nevada and White Mountains, on Oregon’s Mount Hood and in the high desert, in Idaho’s Owyhee Canyonlands, in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park and Indian Peaks Wilderness, and in New Mexico’s canyon country.
Wilderness areas were expanded on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front, in the Boulder-White Clouds region of Idaho and Alpine Lakes in Washington. To the south, wilderness was protected in the Pine Grove Hills and Pine Forest Range of Nevada, the Hermosa Creek watershed near Durango, Colorado, and the Columbine Hondo in northern New Mexico.
These lands provide clean air, clean water, and countless other benefits to humans and wildlife alike. Enlarging and connecting these wild areas will increase their resilience in this era of climate change and wildlife habitat loss. Large, connected landscapes are essential for preserving biodiversity.
Obama also pursued an inclusive vision for our public lands, ensuring that our national monuments better reflect the nation’s rich cultural tapestry.
LINK (via: High Country News)