My thoughts about “Treasured Lands” by Q.T. Luong


When I learned that Q.T. Luong was publishing a landscape photography book of his work in America’s National Parks, I was filled with envy. Ever since I can remember my life has been dedicated to visiting and photographing National Park Service sites, and this man’s work has always been then looming large over my journeys. He’s the first man to visit and photograph all 59 National Parks in large format film. He is featured in Ken Burns’ 2009 park documentary, and even had his photo of Yosemite featured on the cover of the associated book and DVD. His website is my gold-standard for landscape photography, and although he isn’t aware of it I’m happy now to declare that we’ve been in a silent competition for some time (at least in my head). In fact, my Undiscovered America project was in part a reaction to his extensive work. I asked myself what I could do to distance myself from his overwhelming shadow… so I set off to photograph potential National Parks because he hadn’t photographed them yet.

In October 2016 Luong’s book “Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks” released and became a one-stop-shop for planning your adventures into our public lands. In it’s 454 pages it details, with photography examples, the defining features of each park and the best methods of visiting the locations. Text excerpts provide personal stories, maps, stats, and photographic advice for maximizing your time in the parks. Each entry carries images for a variety of seasons, times of day, and hiking abilities so you can tailor your visits. Many landscape photography books have been published since the invention of the camera, and possibly even more travel guides have been produced, but no other book seems to have grasped the experience of actually visiting our natural wonders by combining these aspects. The book is the ideal companion for the park-minded traveler, however the author would be the first to point that while his book is a significant recourse few people would be willing to carry it around on trips due to it’s size and weight. An optimized digital version is also available, although owners of the print book will find a link on page 13 to buy the discounted digital companion, enabling you to bring the work and recommendations with you on your travels.

Treasured Lands is a book we’ve desperately been needing, and the one man best qualified to lead us visually into the parks has finally done us the honor of creating it.

-Zack Frank

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.”


Chiricahua National Monument could become a national park

Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument

By Douglas Kreutz (The Arizona Daily Star)

Some residents of Southern Arizona have launched a campaign to have Chiricahua National Monument southeast of Willcox redesignated as Chiricahua National Park, and they’re getting support from a member of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally says she is planning to introduce legislation to authorize the change, which requires an act of Congress.

Chiricahua Monument — a preserve of 11,985 acres known for its spectacular rock formations, scenic viewpoints and extensive network of trails — would “have no significant changes other than a name change,” said Allen Etheridge, superintendent of the monument. Designation as a national park “wouldn’t change boundaries or increase the budget.”

Bob Gent, a member of the Sierra Vista Tourism Commission and coordinator of the Campaign for Chiricahua National Park, said he and others in Southern Arizona strongly believe that a redesignation is merited.

“Chiricahua National Monument truly is a geologic wonder of the world, and it deserves national park status,” Gent said. “It’s unique in its scenic beauty.”

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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