Indiana Dunes would become Indiana’s first National Park under new legislation

West Beach, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Portage, IN, USA (J. Crocker [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons)

West Beach, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Portage, IN, USA (J. Crocker [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons)

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and Congressman Pete Visclosky, along with the support of the entire Indiana Congressional delegation, have introduced respective legislation in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to designate the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a National Park.

Specifically, the legislation would retitle the “Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore” as the “Indiana Dunes National Park”. The designation would create the first National Park in Indiana and the 60th National Park in the United States, which would give greater recognition to the natural beauty of the dunes and potentially draw more visitors and boost the local economy.

Due to the vast biological diversity and geological features of the Northwest Indiana lakeshore, the first Director of the National Park Service, Mr. Stephen Mather, proposed designating the southern shore of Lake Michigan as the “Sand Dunes National Park” in 1916. Unfortunately, this proposal was abandoned at the onset of World War I, but the Indiana Congressional delegation is again pushing for that designation.

Idaho Senate Approves Memorial Asking for National Park Designation for Craters of the Moon


Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

By  via Boise Weekly

Despite pushback from the Idaho Farm Bureau, the Idaho Senate on Monday approved a measure calling for the state’s congressional delegation to press for national park status for the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

“Our congressional delegation told us, ‘Before we go forward with this, we want to make sure that the state is behind this.’ They don’t need our approval; they could take this and go with it. But they really want to make sure there’s local support,” said Sen. Jeff Siddoway (R-Terreton), sponsor of Senate Joint Memorial 101. “We’ve got some communities over there that are struggling and the water concerns are a nightmare. Some of the local folks are trying everything possible to help their community.”

The Farm Bureau argued that re-designating the Craters to a national park might restrict area farmers from hauling hay, cattle or sheep on highways that run through the monument.

Siddoway reminded his fellow lawmakers that, in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt gave the title of U.S. Highway 20/26 to the state of Idaho.

“The highway belongs to the state, not the Park Service and that’s the way it would stay,” he said, adding that some businesses had already expressed interest in building new campgrounds, hotels or restaurants in the area if there were to be a national park designation.

“It’s not a panacea, but it would bring some economic stability to the area,” Siddoway said.

The bill passed on a 20-13 vote and moves to the Idaho House for its consideration.

Ted Cruz and John Kasich want to sell off OUR public lands

via Think Progress

In a controversial new TV ad aiming to sway conservative caucus-goers in Nevada but likely to backfire with mainstream voters, Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz (R-TX) vows to sell-off or give away the state’s national parks, national forests, national monuments, and other public lands.

“If you trust me with your vote,” says Cruz in the ad, “I will fight day and night to return full control of Nevada’s lands to its rightful owners, its citizens.”

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Obama creates 3 new national monuments to protect 1.8 million acres of California desert

By Louis Sahagun via Los Angeles Times

President Obama designated three new national monuments in the California desert Thursday, expanding federal protection to 1.8 million acres of landscapes that have retained their natural beauty despite decades of heavy mining, cattle ranching and off-roading.

The designation was requested by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who for a decade has sought to protect land that wasn’t included in the 1994 California Desert Protection Act. That measure covered nearly 7.6 million acres, elevated Death Valley and Joshua Tree to national park status and created the Mojave National Preserve.

Unable to gain momentum on her California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act last year, Feinstein and conservation groups asked Obama to act unilaterally to create the three monuments overlapping biological zones between roughly Palm Springs and the Nevada border.

Concern over the long-term health of the deceptively delicate terrain spurred Obama to designate the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which authorizes presidents to create national monuments on federal land to protect “objects of historic and scientific interest.”


3 New National Monuments in Texas, California, Nevada

By JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mammoth bones, prehistoric rock carvings and more than a million acres of wilderness will be protected as part of three new national monuments that President Barack Obama is creating in California, Nevada and Texas.

The presidential move, announced by the White House early Friday, brings to 19 the number of monuments that Obama has created or expanded since taking office. Environmental advocates hailed the new monuments as bringing sorely needed protection to natural American treasures, even as Republicans in Congress were pursuing legislation to stop the president.

In Texas, Obama is creating a monument at Waco Mammoth, a relatively small site in central Texas where archaeologists have discovered remains of 24 Columbian Mammoths — the largest of the mammoth species — from more than 65,000 years ago, the White House said. Like other mammoths, the Columbian Mammoth is now extinct, but roamed freely in North America during the Pleistocene epoch, known colloquially as the ice age. The site marks the only spot in the U.S. where a nursery herd of mammoths has been discovered, and is also home to preserved remains of other ancient species including the saber-toothed cat, dwarf antelope and the western camel.

Nevada’s Basin and Range, home to rare rock art from 4,000 years ago, will also become a national monument. The White House said more than 700,000 acres of public land will be protected in an untouched area of the Great Basin region. In addition to petroglyphs, the site also contains “City,” an array of abstract sculptures that artist Michael Heizer has worked on for more than four decades. The project evokes elements of Mesoamerican life, with ceremonial mounds interspersed with more modern architecture. Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat, has been pushing for years to protect the site and its surroundings.

Tourists and nature lovers in California will see more than 330,000 acres in northern California set aside for a new monument at Berryessa Snow Mountain. The White House touted the area’s rich biodiversity and Native American cultural sites, but the area is best known as a destination for hikers, campers, fishermen and hunters. Officials said designating the site as a monument would likely prompt increased visits to the area and drive economic growth in the coming years.

“I applaud the president, because his historic action will preserve this magnificent area for generations and boost the local economy,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

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