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01/29/2014

Protecting Public Lands: A Presidential Priority

Last night President Obama laid out his vision of opportunity for our nation and made it clear that our children will hold us accountable for the actions we take now; among them steps to permanently protect our public lands.

"My administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities.  And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations."

-- President Obama

During his tenure, President Obama has taken important steps to protect our outdoor legacy. He has designated nine new national monuments, honoring our country's history and safeguarding important natural areas. There has been strong support from local communities for these designations, and there are many more communities that hope to see their special places permanently protected as national monuments soon.

The time and effort invested by the administration in working with communities to protect special places is already paying off, as newly designated national monuments create jobs, boost economies, increase recreation, and safeguard natural treasures. Those benefits will carry on as future generations continue to reap the rewards of President Obama's ongoing conservation legacy.

With continued congressional inaction -- and often downright hostility -- on lands protection, it's clear that the Obama administration must step in to continue America's conservation legacy. It's heartening to see bold action on public lands is an administrative priority. The president's speech further affirms the commitment to act on public lands made by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in October.  Since then, the Secretary Jewell has followed words with action, holding public meetings in New Mexico on how best to protect the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and in California on Stornetta Public Lands. The overwhelmingly positive response at both public meetings is representative of the strong public support nationwide for permanently protecting our great outdoors.

As President Obama continues to act on public lands, we hope he will also act on climate. The two issues are intimately connected; a true commitment to act on climate, including an end to the flawed "all of the above" energy policy, will put the last pieces in place to fully protect our wild places. Future generations will hold President Obama accountable not just for his conservation legacy but for his climate legacy as well. 

-- Matthew Kirby, Sierra Club Senior Lands Protection Representative


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