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Advocates in D.C. to Defend Craters, Other National Monuments

Craters of the Moon National Monument was originally designated in 1924. It was expanded in 2000. (BLM/Flickr)
Craters of the Moon National Monument was originally designated in 1924. It was expanded in 2000. (BLM/Flickr)
June 8, 2017

BOISE, Idaho – Public lands advocates from Idaho and around the country are in Washington Thursday to tell policymakers not to make changes to the country's national monuments, including Idaho's Craters of the Moon.

The Interior Department is reviewing 27 monuments that have been designated or expanded since 1996.

Originally created in 1924, Craters was expanded in 2000.

Conservation planner Avery Shawler is in the capital to defend Craters. She says while the review process could weaken protections for some national monuments, locals in Idaho want to go in the opposite direction.

"They actually are trying to get it designated as a national park because they believe that having it as a national park would put it more on the map and people would maybe come out and see it more,” she states. “It would increase visitation, and that would boost their local economy."

According to new data from research group Headwaters Economics, national monument designation status already has helped local economies. Since its expansion in 2000, per capita income in the area has grown by 36 percent.

Thursday is also the anniversary of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gave presidents the power to designate national monuments to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features.

Shawler says there are more reasons to defend Craters beyond the economic ones.

"It's a really, really unique landscape,” she stresses. “I mean, the lava formations are just unbelievable and you feel like you're really remote when you're out in the middle of it."

The public can comment on the review process at through July 10.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID