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Gov. Richardson Op-Ed on Otero Mesa in Denver Post

By Bill Richardson 

 
“When Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings dating back to the 12th century were threatened, President Woodrow Wilson saved them by establishing Bandelier National Monument in my home state of New Mexico, 95 years ago this February. Now the designation of future monuments may be in jeopardy. Our next Bandelier, Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty or other natural, historic and cultural treasures that shape our character and tell our story, may not be protected if current efforts to limit the Antiquities Act succeed.

Bandelier was named a National Monument in 1916. Today, because of the level of protection provided by this designation, 300,000 people each year have the opportunity to be awed by Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings carved out of rock walls hundreds of feet high and a spectacular landscape that’s home to mountain lions, elk and black bear.

That’s the same level of permanent protection I have asked President Obama to provide another treasure in New Mexico — Otero Mesa. Otero Mesa is the largest and wildest expanse of Chihuahuan Desert grassland left in America, where ancient archeological sites, 1,500-year-old petroglyphs, pronghorn antelopes and one of New Mexico’s largest remaining untapped fresh water resources can be found. But now some elected officials want to leave unique and irreplaceable sites like Otero Mesa vulnerable to looting and vandalism, and oil and gas development by limiting the President’s authority to create Monuments on land already owned and used by the American people….

As a national community, we want to protect places like Bandelier, the Grand Canyon and Otero Mesa. We believe our nation’s leaders share those values, and we call on them to act to preserve the Antiquities Act so our children and our grandchildren can experience treasures like these too. And we also call on President Obama, who, with his America’s Great Outdoors Initiative as evidence, clearly cares about the wild legacy we leave our children, to use all of the tools in his power – including the Antiquities Act – to permanently protect lands like Otero Mesa that connect us to our past and define us as a people.”

Read the full article: Guest Commentary: The Antiquities Act – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_17638168#ixzz1GxjwBQcP

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