U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced today (April 24) her intention to develop plans to manage the 15 national monument lands designated at the end of the Clinton Administration.
Of the 15 properties, 13 are in Western states and two are in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.
The new monument areas include 4.7 million acres, according to CNN.COM.
The planning process is important to the RV industry because access to public lands is vital to encouraging the use of RVs, according to Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Dave Humphreys and other industry experts.
During recent speeches, Humphreys, a Democrat, has praised Norton for having a supportive view towards recreational uses of public lands.
In her statement today, Norton wrote, “It’s important that we begin the process of developing plans for managing these national treasurers.”
Norton, a former Colorado attorney general, said some of the monument lands were designated “over the objections of some local residents.” But she added, “While I share concerns about the way in which these monuments were created, it’s our job now to see that we develop land use plans in an open, inclusive and comprehensive way.”
The planning process most likely will take two to three years and will involve public hearings and the creation of citizen advisory councils. At issue will be whether monument lands should be available for, among other things, RV use, livestock grazing and even oil and natural gas exploration.
Five of the new national monuments are in Arizona: Grand Canyon-Parashant; Agua Fria; Sonoran Desert; Vermillion Cliffs and Ironwood Forest. Three are in California: Giant Sequoia; California Coastal and Carrizo Plain.
There are two new national monuments in Idaho: Craters of the Moon and Minidoka Internment. Also, in Montana, there is Upper Missouri River Breaks, in Washington there is Hanford Reach and in Colorado there is the Canyons of the Ancients.
In the Canyons of the Ancients, there are significant oil and natural gas reserves, much of which have already been leased for potential development, according to CNN.COM.