The US Supreme Court today turned down a request by a county government and extreme right wing groups asking it to strip protection from seven national monuments. The high court let stand two seperate appeals court rulings finding the creation of the monuments by the Clinton administration was a legal use of the Antiquities Act. The extremists lost this argument at the district court and appeals court level. The monuments at issue are the Canyon of the Ancients (Colo.), Cascade-Siskiyou (Ore.), Grand Canyon-Parashant (Ariz.), Hanford Reach (Wash.), Sonoran Desert (Ariz.), and Ironwood Forest (Ariz.) National Monuments and Giant Sequoia National Monument in California.
Attacks on the monuments came in two related court cases. The first challenged the creation of the Giant Sequoia National Monument and the second challenged the other monuments named above. Earthjustice attorney Michael Sherwood, together with attorneys from the Natural Resources Defense Council, intervened to defend the Sequoia National Monument. Earthjustice attorney Jim Angell intervened to defend the other six monuments.
All of the monuments contain spectacular natural and archaeological features deserving of protection for current and future generations. That’s why they were created. For instance the Giant Sequoia National Monument contains giant sequoia redwood trees, the largest plants in the world found nowhere else on earth.
Earthjustice attorneys noted that the fight to protect the monuments isn’t over. The Bush administration is working on management plans that call for logging, mining, and other destructive activities inside the monuments.
“While the Supreme Court’s decision vindicates President Clinton’s creation of the national monuments, this is not the end of the fight to protect these unique areas,” said Jim Angell of Earthjustice. “Threats remain because the Bush administration appears poised to allow logging and rampant off-road vehicle use despite their destructive impacts on the very objects the monuments were created to protect.”
“The baseless litigation by opponents of Giant Sequoia National Monument is finally over, and the courts have recognized the legitimacy of this and the other national monuments established by President Clinton,” said Sherwood, who helped argue the Giant Sequoia Monument case. “However, the fight to prevent the Bush administration from adopting a management plan that allows continued logging and other destructive activities in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, the very activities that establishment of the Monument was supposed to preclude, is just getting started.”