Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
What's the difference between a national park and a national monument?
What is wilderness?

What's the difference between a national park and a national monument?

National parks can be created only through an act of Congress. National monuments can be designated by the president under the Antiquities Act, which Theodore Roosevelt signed in 1906. Historically, such designations are intended to protect scenic, historic, archaeological, geologic and other scientific and educational values.

Many of the nation's premier national parks began as presidentially designated national monuments, including Grand Canyon, Death Valley and four out of Utah's five -- Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capital Reef and Arches. All national parks and most national monuments are run by the National Park Service, but monuments generally have lower priority when it comes to funding.

What is wilderness?

Wilderness designation means that certain activities are prohibited: logging, off-road-vehicle use, permanent developments like roads, buildings and dams. National parks and monuments may contain wilderness areas -- as can national forests and areas under the jurisdiction of the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management -- but monument status does not necessarily protect an area from grazing, road building or other development.

While Clinton's Grand Staircase-Escalante designation is a laudable move, it does not change the Club's goal of 5.7 million acres of wilderness in southern Utah, a goal that can be achieved only through Congressional designation.

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