Monuments to America Road Trip: From Las Vegas to Salt Lake City
It’s the end of the road for the Monuments to America road tour. Along the way we passed through the lush alpine slopes of the Rockies and the basins of the Mojave Desert. From ponderosa forests to Joshua trees, the West’s national monuments are as diverse as it’s changing ecosystems and are well-loved by all. We heard from elected leaders who know that conservation is a winning issue, business owners who’ve seen the economic benefits of protected lands first hand, Latino and Hispanic community members whose culture is tied to these landscapes, and tribal leaders whose histories are preserved by the protection of these lands.
That’s the thing about protected public lands — they belong to everyone.
After passing under the peaks of Sand to Snow National Monument and through the starkly beautiful Mojave Trails National Monument, we left behind the desert views for the flashing lights of Las Vegas, Nevada. There we heard from Representatives Dina Titus and Ruben Kihuen (of Nevada’s 1st and 4th congressional districts) and nearby community leaders. After that, it was on to Salt Lake City, Utah, where we were joined by a Utah state representative, tribal member, and members of the local business community on the steps of the city’s Patagonia store.
Here’s what we learned from them.
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, U.S. Representative, Nevada 4th congressional district
“The Antiquities Act has existed for a hundred years. Presidents of both parties have designated national monuments. I urge Secretary Zinke to reconsider his decision to take away the protected status of Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments. As you visit Nevada, take the time to listen to Nevadans, over 70 percent want these places protected. Leave our lands alone.”
Eric Roberts, Las Vegas architect and business owner
“As we’ve tried to recruit the talent of a lost generation of architects it’s become evident that young people and the workers of tomorrow desire a place where they can recreate. They desire a place that offers them natural beauty, time away from the office, and some place that gives them the ability to aspire, to dream. Our national monuments are just that place. For our business to be successful, to move forward into the 21st Century, and to be vibrant again, we require these national monuments, these wild places, which… tell us what we have been and what we can be tomorrow.”
Braidan Weeks, Communications Coordinator, Utah Diné Bikéyah
“Utah Diné Bikéyah brought a bunch of youth down to Bears Ears National Monument this spring where we took them out with elders and let them explore. It was surprising how much cultural knowledge the youth held within themselves, which they could implant in the landscape, share with us, and share with each other. You could see that the land activated that in them, it made them excited to be part of this, it made them excited to be part of their culture. That is why it’s so important to us native people that these land, this history, and these sacred places be preserved within this national monument.”
Micaela O’Leary, Salt Lake City Assistant Store Manager, Patagonia
“In the monument comment period there has been huge support shown for protection of these places — 2.7 million people commented during the comment period (an unprecedented number, usually people don’t come out in droves like that), 98 percent of them in favor of growing protections or protecting existing conditions for these monuments. So here at Patagonia, we plan to stick our feet in the ground and continue to support this push for public lands as a business , as members of the Utah community, and as members of the outdoor industry as a whole.”