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Nurturing a Fragile Giant
Will 25 million acres within the National Landscape Conservation System truly be conserved? Landscape architects take on political and funding challenges.
By Michael Leccese

Photo By Wayne Mumford/

In September 1996, President Bill Clinton invoked executive powers
under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-
Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. By proclaiming the monument, Clinton blocked a proposed coal mine that would have scarred one of the nation’s most remote and scenic settings.

Environmentalists cheered and compared Clinton to Teddy Roosevelt, but a group of Utah high school students burned Clinton in effigy and released black balloons. Others staged vigilante-style protests that reflected the ire of some Western citizens and politicians, not to mention the mining industry.

Despite howls over federal suzerainty, Clinton wasn’t done. By the time he left
office, he proclaimed 14 more national monuments totaling 6 million acres.

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