January 17th is an important anniversary for the Sonoran Desert National Monument. It was on this day in 2001 that President Clinton proclaimed nearly 500,000-acres of Sonoran Desert as the Sonoran Desert National Monument through the authority of the Antiquities Act. It was also on this time that the Bureau of Land Management was given the authority to manage national monuments as National Conservation Lands.
Former Department of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt realized that there were millions of acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management that exhibited outstanding natural and cultural features that demanded more than multiple uses ideas to guides its management and that the American people deserved better from their government in managing these lands.
The beauty of BLM of National Conservation Lands, which the Sonoran Desert National Monument is included, is that conservation and preservation of the monument’s resources receives priority over other uses. In many cases multiple use management continues if the other uses do not harm the resources for which the monument was designated.
So let’s celebrate the anniversaries of the proclamation of the Sonoran Desert National Monument and the creation of National Conservation Lands, but let’s not forget that we must be vigilant and prepared to defend all our public lands from all threats.