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Fort Monroe


One way Obama’s lands policy has frustrated many in the environmental community is that, unlike most other Democratic presidents in memory and many Republicans for that matter, he has been reticent to use the 1906 Antiquities Act to create new protected lands. This is part and parcel of his centrist lands policy, personified in the Ken Salazar-led Department of Interior.

Finally, Obama has moved to use the act to create Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia
, a clear and worthy addition to the National Park system that will center on Civil War and African-American history.

One can certainly question whether we should be adding to the parks when we have underfunded them for so long, but at the very least, this move provides permanent protection for a valuable piece of American history.

Now if only Obama would use the Antiquities Act to protect some of our western lands in danger of mineral development. Unlikely.

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  • This made a lot of people who live in a Republican region of a purple state very happy. He solidified some of his base in Virginia today.

  • Isn’t the use of the Antiquities Act for such a purpose something that presidents usually do at the end of their terms?

    • While it tends to be used more at that time, it’s not always the case. Clinton’s creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah is one example.

      • That’s about what I thought.

        I expect we’ll see a bunch of such designations either late in 2012 (if Obama loses his reelection bid), or in 2015-16 (if he wins).

        • Maybe, but wouldn’t it seem prototypical Obama to not do this, burnishing his centrist, bipartisan cred even as he leaves office?

          • Just the opposite, it would prototypical Obama to not do this during most of his term, to keep up good relations while he’s trying to get other stuff done, and then turn around and do it after all when there’s no more reason for him to hold back.

  • Even Dubya did it for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument in 2006.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Very quietly (because the whole Civil War Sequicentennial has been very quiet) the Obama administration seems to be doing very good things at the nation’s civil war battle sites.

    I visited Pea Ridge national battlefield in Arkansas over the summer. Some of the museum exhibit is over a decade old. It contains what I think of as standard, bad Civil War history: a film featuring CW reenactors that plays the conflict as a tragic clash of brother against brother, one side fighting for union, the other for “states rights.”

    But then there’s a much more recently done section, which begins with a wall calmly explaining that slavery was the cause of the conflict. Full stop. It then goes on to provide some very interesting and responsible military history of what went on at Pea Ridge.

    This is the only CW battlefield I’ve visited in the last decade or so. Are other such sites getting similar treatment?

    • wengler

      I went to that battlefield fifteen years ago. It was pretty understated compared to the more famous grounds out east, but in my opinion a lot more interesting due to the Amerindian involvement.

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