'Monument' would foster conservation | Editorial

President Obama is only going to pick two or three from the list of 14, but we hope the San Juans are among those selected for national monument designation.

The only lands directly affected by the designation would be those owned and managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. — some 900 acres, including conservation areas and small islands. Those lands are considered Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and are already protected: No camping, no development, no fires, no motorized vehicles. Pedestrian use only. National monument status could result in more resources for conservation.

Parts of the archipelago have already been designated a national wildlife refuge. We have three state parks, a state marine area and a national park. National monument status would further imprint on the local, state and national conscience the sensitivity of this environment and the web of life it sustains.

Nick Teague, BLM’s outdoor recreation planner on Lopez Island, thinks designation would be “a great thing.” Deborah Hopkins of the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau said the designation could boost visitor interest in the islands, particularly tourists who are more stewardship-minded.

We agree and endorse the designation.

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