April 13 – April 14, 2018.
Greg was jonesing to get to Utah. He had been talking about Utah since we were in Baja. “Yeah, all these beaches and stuff are nice, but what I really want to do is go look at some rocks in Utah,” he would tell me. If you haven’t figured it out already, Greg loves geology – and our bobbleheaded dog, Bob, loves geology too – they are both serious rock hounds. So after our little wander through Owens Valley and our trip to see the big trees, we started heading that way – except first I wanted to make a stop at a place I had marked on my map that we passed by last year, Gold Butte.
Gold Butte is a mostly undeveloped National Monument managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It was established as a National Monument by President Obama in 2016 under the Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act is an act that became a law under Theodore Roosevelt’s tenure as president in 1906. It gives the President the authority to create National Monument from from federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features. Roosevelt used the act to declare the first National Monument, Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. The act has been used over one hundred times since it’s passage by all but 5 sitting presidents.
We have visited 13 National Monuments in our land journeys out west. Some of the sites we have visited are nicely developed and managed by the National Park Service (NPS), like Organ Pipe Cactus and White Sands. Others have been almost completely undeveloped sites where we have boondocked, like Sonoran Desert and Ironwood Forest. I was curious as to why these National Monuments were managed by different agencies and were more or less developed, so I did a little research. Here is what I learned.
Monuments can be managed by 8 different federal agencies. Some Monuments are managed by two federal agencies. Then there is stuff like Grand Canyon-Parashant (totally different from Grand Canyon National Park) which is managed by the BLM, but because about 20,000 acres of this monument are in the Lake Mead Recreation Area (recreation areas can be managed by 3 different federal agencies) managed by the NPS, it is also managed by the NPS. Ok – I know what some you (my libertarian friends) are thinking right now – government bloat, privatize the whole lot!
Oh – and BTW – National Monuments aren’t just natural areas. They are also forts, homes of historic Americans and places like Stonewall Bar and Christopher Park in New York City, the location of the Stonewall riots which became the catalyst for the LBGT rights movement was declared a monument in 2016.
With all my research, I still didn’t get an answer to my question, but I do know National Monuments are treasures and without all these crazy federal lands we wouldn’t have the freedom to experience some of the most amazing things this country has to offer. So here’s to the wild free west and all the geologists, the nature lovers, the explorers, the curious, the land lovers, the Native Americans, the scientists, the diverse citizenry, the RVers and van dwellers, the vacationers, the retirees, the equestrians, the rock climbers, the birders, the hunters, the mountain bikers, the ORVers, the campers, the nature photographers, you, me, and the rock hounds like Bob and Greg who love public lands! Thank you Teddy!
* All pics are click to enlarge.