Gold Butte National Monument and its Importance
New Monument, but Old History
Here in the United States we have many national monuments. Most people however do not see the gravity of a national monument declaration. They merely believe that national monuments are simply pieces of land that one day became important enough to be protected. That notion however is not necessarily true. A president has complete authority to declare lands and structures that they see fit as national monuments according to the 1906 enactment of the Antiquities Act. The latest part of the Antiquities Act is in danger of being removed from the national monument registry in the coming year. Gold Butte National Monument is at the center of serious controversy, but here are some reasons why the monument should remain protected.
Native Americans have been a part of America way before it was even recognized as a country. Their lands have been taken from them time after time and many of these lands, including Gold Butte National Monument contain historical artifacts that are unique to their culture. These pieces of the past are not just artifacts that should be put into a museum for viewing by the general public. These pieces of Native American culture include drawings made by their ancestors and even pottery left behind. The protection of these artifacts and the land are vital.
Many Native American artifacts have been lost throughout the years. Looters and pure vandals seem to seek out these types of areas, either for personal gain or simply to destroy and the Native Americans are left with ruins of their once pristine past. There is no protection against looters without a declaration of the land as a national monument and by declaring Gold Butte as a national monument, Barak Obama has saved the land from being destroyed and ransacked by those that simply do not honor the lifestyle of Native Americans.
What About the Animals?
A vast array of animals can be found within the borders of the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument. Most of them have never been a part of the endangered species list and therefore they have never really been protected, but a select few are a part of the endangered species list or at least close to becoming a part of it. Without protection animals, such as the already threatened Mojave Tortoise may be extinct within a few years. By protecting the land that the tortoise calls home, we can maintain the species in a natural environment instead of just sticking them in local zoos. The protection gives us and future generations the ability to study these animals in their natural environment without any deviation. Other animals that call Gold Butte National Monument home are the mountain lion and the bighorn sheep.
An Interest in the Land
Interest in the land where Gold Butte National Monument sits is high not only with Native Americans, but many others that would like to make a profit from the possible resources that lie beneath the ground. It is suspected, but certainly not confirmed that the area beneath the national monument contains a vast quantity of oil. Oil companies throughout the country have clamored for a chance to drill the ground. Oil drilling not only destroys the earth, it also drives wildlife out of the area and strips the land of vital nutrients found in the earth. The greed for oil will make Gold Butte a desolate place if the national monument status is reversed.
What do Locals Think?
Anytime a national monument is declared by a president, there are those that oppose the declaration and also those that praise it. Most of the time, one group outweighs the other, but in the case of Gold Butte National Monument, the locals are completely divided. There are some that believe that the declaration is a good thing and will preserve the land for future generations to study and learn from, but there are also those that believe that the economic growth and allowing the oil companies to take hold would impact the people of the land and provide jobs in a down economy.
Both sides of this debate are completely right, but just because economic growth is a possibility, does not mean that it would have a good impact on the land itself. Some oil companies will choose to not hire locals, but rather bring in their own experienced crew and therefore keeping many from getting the jobs they were promised. The land is always more important than the ability to get profit and the history of the Native American cultures are certainly more important than profitability. Time will tell if incoming President Trump will actually take away the national monument status from Gold Butte, but never before has a president actually stripped a title. We just have to remain hopeful that things will remain as they should.