Holiday Print Sale

Written by Alpenglow Images on October 9th, 2017

It’s never too early to start planning for the holidays; Christmas is, after all, only 77 days away! This year I’m starting my holiday print sale early to ensure delivery of your gifts by Christmas. Now through December 24*, I’m offering 25% off prints and canvases.

Why buy art as a gift?

Simply put, art is a gift that can be enjoyed every day. Viewing art reduces stress and improves mental health. With the increase in popularity of our national parks and other public lands, people to whom you give art can enjoy their favorite landscapes even when they’re between vacations.

How it works

I believe art buying should be a personal experience. Once you’ve decided which print you’d like, send me an email to tell me which print you’d like to purchase. You can visit my purchasing page for a price list, keeping in mind that prices are reduced by 25% through December 24*.  We can discuss the size you’d like and any other considerations, for instance if you’d like a canvas or a metal print, etc.

After the print is finished, I’ll inspect it personally, sign it, and ship it to you.  Shipping costs are included in the price of the print.

What you get

All of my prints are made on archival quality paper, which comes in a variety of finishes such as luster, matte, gloss, or pearl. Color prints are made on a state-of-the-art inkjet printer, and black and white prints are actually digitally projected and exposed on photographic paper. Custom canvases are stretched over a wooden frame, giving them a three-dimensional feel that can add depth to any room.

holiday print sale

Black and White prints are created by projecting the image onto photographic paper. Cute kid not included.

I guarantee canvases and prints for life from fading, provided they are displayed properly (for example, out of direct sunlight). I also include a free 5×7″ mini-card with all prints; mini-cards provide information about the image, and are included at no charge.

Greeting cards – perfect for any occasion!

I also have greeting cards available for purchase. There are 6 photographs printed as 5 x 7″ prints on sturdy card stock. A set of 6 is available $15 + $3 shipping within the US, $10 international. Quantities are limited, so contact me soon for the best selection!

Alpenglow Images greeting cards

Six greeting card photographs are available.

*Because I personally inspect every print, orders placed too close to Christmas will likely not be delivered by December 25.  Please be sure to take advantage of this holiday print sale by ordering as early as possible, and thank you for considering my photography!

 

Closing of the Mountain Light Gallery

Written by Alpenglow Images on October 1st, 2017

Last week, the Mountain Light Gallery in California’s eastern Sierra announced it is closing its doors. Showcasing the work of photographers Galen and Barbara Rowell, the Mountain Light had been a standard stop for many photographers, hikers, and tourists stopping through Bishop since they first opened their doors in 1983. To say I was taken aback by this announcement is an understatement. Gary Crabbe, a past employee of Galen’s, shared his views on the closing of Mountain Light in his blog. I can’t begin to replicate Gary’s sentiments, but I wanted to share a bit of my history with Mountain Light.

photo of a barren mountain landscape with late day sunlight with receding mountain ridges behind it

Galen Rowell was a San Francisco Bay Area photographer and climber whose images of the mountains are simply iconic. From his home range, the Sierra Nevada, to mountaineering expeditions in South America and Tibet, Galen’s work set the bar for adventure and backcountry landscape photography. In the days when I cared about such things, his were the images I compared mine against.

On August 11, 2002, on their way home from an expedition through northern Tibet, Galen and Barbara were flying into the Bishop airport when the plane they were in crashed, killing both of them. The same day as Galen and Barbara’s passing is the day I moved from California from Wyoming. I remember hearing the news that day on the radio as I unloaded boxes into my apartment. Not long after that I made my first trip to Bishop (I did graduate work at the White Mountain Research Station whose offices are in Bishop). The gallery was one of the first places we stopped. Galen’s images were always inspirational and moving, a grand welcome to the Golden State.

Perhaps most importantly, Galen’s was the first photography I became familiar with that had a “voice,” and I’ve often used his work as an example when trying to describe this somewhat abstract concept. Galen’s presence in his images was evident the moment you step foot in the gallery. His sense of adventure, eye for the subtleties of light, love of life, and even his devotion to his wife are all palpable when you walk through its doors. I have never gone to the eastern Sierra without stopping in at Mountain Light Gallery and I have never walked out of there without feeling a little choked up. Like the Rowells, their gallery will be truly missed.

photo of yellow grasses on a high altitude plateau with peaks in the distance and white cumulus clouds in the blue sky above

The images in this blog post are throwbacks to my graduate school days (probably both are from 2003 or 2004). They are scanned Fuji Sensia slides from the Barcroft Plateau in the White Mountains not far from Bishop.

 

Return to Middle Earth

Written by Alpenglow Images on September 26th, 2017

I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest. In peace and quiet, without a lot of relatives prying around, and a string of confounded visitors hanging on the bell. I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.” – J.R.R. Tolkien


Autumn is, without a doubt, my favorite season. The light is longer, even warm days have a different tone, birds make their escape to warmer climates, and to paraphrase Gretel Ehrlich, the beautiful changing leaves are the verbs that conjugate the seasons. Autumn is almost certainly the time of the year I am the happiest.

Although I should have been working on my Wilderness Project, I opted to start the season by escaping to the high country. In hopes of getting a much-needed taste of Autumn, last week I visited the Tushar Mountains, a small mountain range in central Utah. I arrived right as a fall storm was moving out of the area. In the days before my visit, it had deposited a skiff of fresh snow in the higher parts of the range. Elk were bugling in the thickets, and aspens had begun to turn. Autumn was definitely in the air!

detail of a high altitude hillside in the tushar mountains of southern utah

We first visited this lovely mountain range in July. Always struck by the way a landscape can affect–or speak to–a person, I knew instantly the Tushars had claimed another victim in me. These mountains are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Broad high altitude ridge lines, stout peaks, steep canyons, and verdant hanging valleys (“pockets”) remind me of something from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The way the light played on the ridges and snowfields extending from the summit of Delano Peak (12,169′)–the highest point in the Tushars–was simply magical. Yup, I knew I had to go back.

The Tushars are a volcanic mountain range that sit on the ecological cusp of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau. They are geologically interesting; two separate volcanic events have shaped them, erosion has worn them down, and glaciers have carved their canyons. The Toquima Mountains in Nevada and the San Juan Mountains in Colorado are also good examples of  volcanic ranges. The Tushars’ white peaks–formed by ash flow–stand in stark contrast to the darker volcanic rock of the lower canyons.

photo of a small waterfall and colorful aspen trees in front of two mountains peaks in utah's tushar mountains

photo of a volcanic rock outcropping at sunrise in beaver canyon, utah

Although they are beautiful and unique, images don’t present themselves easily. Because of their nature, you don’t find majestic skylines like you would in the Tetons. To the casual traveler viewing the Tushar Mountains for the first time, they look nondescript…not especially noteworthy. As they say though, most things worth getting to know require a bit of time. The US Forest Service, which manages the public lands in the Tushars (part of the Fishlake National Forest), has a trail system in the Tushars, and off-trail travel is easy. Thus, it’s easy to “choose your own adventure.”


In addition to what was mostly solo hiking, I enjoyed talking with a couple of mountain goat hunters, locals whose families had been in the Tushars for generations. I was also fortunate to connect with a local landscape photographer, Brady Nay, who spent a day hiking with me and showing me some of the places he grew up with. It is always nice to meet other photographers whose images are driven by a sense of connection to a particular landscape. Brady’s certainly are, and it was a really fun day to explore some of the canyons in the Tushars with him. Whether it’s hunting or photography, public lands really do bind us all together.

a two-tiered waterfall with pale rock and bright green moss in the tushar mountains of southern utah

photo of a hunter leading his horse off of a snow-covered slope in the tussah mountains of southern utah

Wherever autumn finds you, I hope you find someplace you can rest, in peace and quiet, to enjoy the season’s best!

 

The Wilderness Project

Written by Alpenglow Images on September 15th, 2017

panoramic image with text and colorful mountains at sunset

The Wilderness Project is my current photographic project, launched earlier this month. Over the next several months, I will document the nineteen federally-designated wilderness areas in my backyard, Riverside County, California.

black and white photo of a slot canyon in the mecca hills wilderness of southern california

Mecca Hills Wilderness

Over the last year or so, I think we’ve become acutely aware of our public lands and what they have to offer. Our national monuments, especially, have garnered much attention, but there is still so much out there to see. The public lands-advocacy group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers has declared September Public Lands Month, and I thought it was apropos to launch this project in September. What’s more, many of the wildernesses in Riverside County were created with passage of the California Desert Protection Act, which turns 25 in 2019.

Finally, perhaps most importantly, I wanted to launch this project to know my own surroundings better. As Kenneth Brower (son of famed conservationist David Brower) writes, “There is a language for terrain, just as there is a language for art.” Understanding that language is crucial for the landscape photographer who wants to create personal, introspective images.

Some of the wilderness areas in Riverside County are ones you’ve been to. In fact, the most popular one–the Joshua Tree Wilderness–is one you have likely visited. The San Jacinto Wilderness is another popular hiking destination. However, there are others that you likely haven’t heard of. I recommend starting here as you orient yourself to my project, and consider subscribing to The Wilderness Project by email to get new blog posts as I visit the far-flung reaches of Riverside County.

Thanks for coming along on this journey! Hopefully it will inspire you to get into your own backyard to discover some of its hidden gems.

 

Four Corners

Written by Alpenglow Images on September 1st, 2017

I am interested in the way a man looks at a landscape and takes possession of it in his blood and brain. For this happens, I am certain, in the ordinary motion of life. None of us lives apart from the land entirely; such an isolation is unimaginable. We do not act upon a stagnant landscape, but instead are part of it. Place is created in the process of remembering and telling stories and the ability of the receiver to understand the meanings of place encapsulated in language.” – N. Scott Momaday


I grew up in the Four Corners area of the Southwest and my parents still live there. Every summer we make a trip back there to visit. Growing up, I didn’t appreciate the incredible diversity of ecosystems that were in front of me. Most teenagers are like this, I guess. Of course piñon-juniper pygmy forest dominates the landscape, but (very) high mountains aren’t that far away, nor are rivers or badlands. In their own way, they’re all lovely, and I feel most at home in this landscape.

photo of small red and black pebbles on badlands in northern new mexico

The Navajo Sandstone we so closely associate with the Colorado Plateau is buried thousands of feet below the surface in all but a few areas of northern New Mexico. Much younger rock is exposed, primarily from the Nacimiento and San Jose Formations, formed between 38-60 million years ago. In your hand, it feels “looser” than sandstone elsewhere on the Colorado Plateau. Big sand grains and inclusions make it feel like it could easily break apart. It’s also paler in color, more closely resembling white Cedar Mesa sandstone.

photo of a sunlit arch near sunset, with piñon pines and junipers surrounding it

Whimsical rock shapes aren’t as common here as in other areas of the Plateau. Indigenous rock art and ruins (both Diné and Ancestral Puebloan are common, as well as some Apache)–while present in high densities–are more hidden. I suppose its subtle nature leads some photographers to shy away from this landscape. However, all of these things are worth searching out and exploring for; its subtleties are worth embracing. In fact, after over 30 years, I can still see the landscape in new ways and discover new things. The excitement and wonder of discovery then deepens my sense of place. And so the cycle continues.

photo of an arch in the four corners region after sunset with pink and violet clouds in the sky

The feeling of being home becomes more pervasive each time I visit. Ellen Meloy wrote often about landscapes choosing people, and if she’s right, then I’m so happy the Four Corners area chose me.

You can see more of my New Mexico landscape photography by clicking on this link.

photo of bentonite badlands and whimsical rock formations in predawn light in the Bisti Badlands of northern New Mexico

 

 

 

Kids & Photography

Written by Alpenglow Images on August 23rd, 2017

In my last post, I mentioned that Jackson Frishman and I managed to get our kids (two boys, ages 5 and 9) out for a short backpack in the Sierra last week. Backpacking with kids has its challenges and rewards, and I wrote about a few of them when my son was much younger. He’s 9 now, and can carry his own backpack (with a few small things in it), and asks often to go hiking, camping, or backpacking. Although I haven’t been able to get out with him as much as I’d like, this trip seemed fun and appropriately timed.

A couple of things I noticed on this trip were that it was great for him to have another kid to hike with. Having someone who hikes on your own level is motivating for anyone, especially little people. Additionally, having things to distract the boys was essential. Jackson had a deep pocket of jelly beans for them, and I packed a book in for my son so he could unwind after the hike, as well as a root beer for an after dinner treat. Finally, a good night’s sleep is essential. Although he was tired and–admittedly–a bit grouchy after our hike into our campsite, my son was a different kid after a solid rest.

Perhaps more than anything, finding a way to share the experience is the most important part of engaging kids outdoors. On this trip, my son asked if he could take some photos with my camera. I was happy he wanted to try, so I metered for him, but let him compose and expose his own images. When we got home, I saw that one image was one I would have liked to claim for my own! I edited it, and posted it below. So, really I’m just bragging about my kiddo here, and am happy he’s taken an interest in a form of self-expression. Make sure to foster this in your own kids, no matter how it shows up.

photograph of snow, the flanks of University Peak, and matlock lake at sunset, in the john muir wilderness of california's sierra nevada mountains

a nine year old boy wearing a down jacket takes a photo with camera and tripod at a lake in the sierra nevada mountains of california

 

Fire in the sky

Written by Alpenglow Images on August 18th, 2017

“The agent by which fire was first brought down to earth and made available to mortal man was lightning. To this source every hearth owes its flames.” – Lucretius, De Rerum Natura


The sky has long been a source of wonder for humankind. Colorful sunrises and sets, stargazing, and of course events like eclipses are all things that evoke awe and inspiration. People in certain parts of the United States are gearing up for the upcoming solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. Personally, I’ll be driving across northern Arizona during the eclipse. I intend only to pull over and enjoy what will be about 75% occlusion as the moon passes between Earth and the sun.

While the solar eclipse will be the capstone of summer for many, the season–to me–is sadly becoming defined less by swimming pools and barbecues and more by wildland fires. Currently, there are 56 large fires burning in the United States; 55 of them are in the West. This is a particularly bad year for fires, but over the past few summers my own wilderness exploration has depended heavily on where smoke is not obscuring the views. Despite what Lucretius opined in his first century poem De Rerum Natura, most wildland fires today are human-caused. Only a small percentage are caused by lightning.

Earlier this week, Jackson Frishman and I managed to get our boys out for a short overnight backpack in the John Muir Wilderness. Smoke from several fires burning in the Sierra Nevada obscured views in the Owens Valley, but as we hiked up, the air seemed to clear. A few clouds in the sky made a colorful sunset seem promising.

photo of grass along the edge of matlock lake and university peak with late day light in the john muir wilderness of california

Indeed, as the sun went down, the sky started to light up. I was using a polarizing filter to help reduce glare on the lake we were camped by. As sunset got nearer, I noticed a very strange effect on the images I was making. What I can only conclude was “invisible” smoke in the upper atmosphere was showing up in my polarized images, intermingling with the pink clouds. The result, I think, is unique and pretty (despite its cause).

photo of a colorful sunset at Matlock Lake in the John Muir Wilderness, California

If you are going outdoors with family and friends next week to view the eclipse, I wish you luck. I also hope smoke does not obscure your view. Please make sure to not add to the smoke by being very careful with any fires you make.

 

Thriving Communities

Written by Alpenglow Images on July 10th, 2017

This is my eleventh hour letter to the Secretary of the Interior. As Edward Abbey wrote, my vox clamantis in deserto, my voice crying in the wilderness.

Today is the final day to submit your comments on Executive Order 13792, which orders a review of all national monuments established since 1996. This review is to ensure that they were created in accordance with the original intent of the Antiquities Act of 1906. The most pressing national monument “under review” is Bears Ears, although there are many others, several of which are in the West. Please make your opinion heard; it is the only way for the the Secretary to hear our thoughts on this matter. You can read my other thoughts on this in these blog posts (here and here).

Comments may be submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the Search bar and clicking “Search,” or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.


Mojave Trails National Monument

With July 10th looming closer, I decided to spend the part of the weekend in the desert, photographing monsoon thunderstorms. Perhaps more than that, I simply wanted to be out on my public lands. After considering where the storms were moving, I ended up on the western edge of Mojave Trails National Monument, one of the monuments currently under review by the Department of Interior. While the scenery did not disappoint, a small foible of my own began a series of events that has caused my view of our National Monuments to evolve.

Mojave Trails is just a little less than 2 years old, and protects a very large swath of the Mojave Desert in southern California. The Cadiz Dunes and parts of historic Route 66 are two highlights of the monument, but there are countless other mountain ranges and valleys, each with their own bits of natural wonder and history. The casual observer may see only miles of desolate, lonely creosote in Mojave Trails. However, a 2014 study published in the scientific journal Nature identified the Mojave Desert as a huge sink for carbon–in other words, the plants here do an incredible job of removing carbon from the atmosphere, thus curtailing global warming. Uninterrupted patches of desert are even more important than we originally thought.

photo of mountain ranges and valleys in Mojave Trails National Monument

A Sandy Situation

After entering the monument, I pulled off the highway, ate lunch, and continued down a long dirt road. My plan was to get as close to Ship Mountain as possible, for views of the Sheepshole Mountains, as well as the Cadiz Valley to the east. With temperatures well over 100 degrees, I was content to enjoy the air conditioning while I enjoyed the scenery.

Like most backcountry roads in the Mojave, I encountered several patches of sand, which I floated through effortlessly. Then, I got to the big sand pit. As soon as I realized I shouldn’t be there, I put the car in reverse and floored the gas. All I got was a giant dust cloud. I realized I was stuck immediately, so I used some wood I found to try to build a bridge for my car’s tires. Still nothing. I found something I could dig with, and actually got to a hard bottom of the sand, but my tires still couldn’t find purchase. I tried everything I could think of, but it soon became clear that I needed help.

It’s time for me to dine on crow for a bit, and admit that I screwed up. Although I normally am very aware of my limits, I was in a 2WD vehicle on a backcountry road, and did not have the proper equipment (like a shovel, or an air pump so I could deflate my tires) to extract myself. However, I did have a full tank of gas (for air conditioning), a GPS messenger, and lots of water and food. More importantly, I had cell service.

I called my girlfriend to ask her to call AAA for me, hoping they would be able to send a wrecker to pull me out. Of course, the nearest service wanted $1500 for their time, so that wasn’t an option. Still, my girlfriend and her dad drove out to pick me up, and we left the car for the night.

On our way home, we stopped for dinner, and happened to ask our waiter (somewhat jokingly) if he knew anyone with a 4×4 who would be willing to pull me out. Turns out he did! We got into contact with an entire network of good samaritan off-roading enthusiasts who pull people like me out of sticky situations for free. I posted my GPS coordinates and a description of my problem on one of their forums and within minutes I had several people willing and ready to help. The next morning I met two servicemen stationed in Twentynine Palms, and they had me out within minutes. We even stopped on the way to my car so they could help another motorist in need.

The cost of their goodwill? A handshake.

Our National Monuments as common ground

Even today, writing this, I’m blown away by their simple willingness to help, and wanting nothing in return. They would have driven anywhere to help me, and one of them even offered to come help me at 3am, before he realized I had gotten a ride out for the night. This neighborly goodwill and cooperation is what Daniel Kemmis writes about extensively in his excellent book, “Community and the Politics of Place.

Although I likely won’t cross paths with those men again, I am thankful for their selfless willingness to help. I am also reminded of the common ground that brings us together: our public lands. While they enjoy a different activity than I do, our monuments and backcountry views bring both of us outdoors, together.

In the same way the Mojave Desert plants create a healthy ecosystem, there is another community of outdoorsmen that is simply thriving. In a time when we are feeling idealogical and political rifts more than ever, I believe it’s more important than ever to seek common ground, make connections, and make our collective voices heard.

There are only a few hours left to do just that. Mojave Trails, just like the other monuments under review, deserves to be protected for countless reasons. Have you submitted your comments yet?

black and white photo of Ship Mountain in Mojave Trails National Monument at sunset

 

In defense of Bears Ears National Monument

Written by Alpenglow Images on May 11th, 2017

In my last blog post, I talked about Executive Order 13792, which orders a review of the national monuments, many of which in the West, established since 1996. This review is to ensure that they were created in accordance with the original intent of the Antiquities Act of 1906. The most pressing national monument “under review” is Bears Ears. The Department of Interior has opened the public comment period for this order, and for Bears Ears, it is only 15 days long. Please make your opinion heard; it is the only way for the the Secretary to hear our thoughts on this matter. Below is my letter about Bears Ears specifically.

Comments may be submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the Search bar and clicking “Search,” or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.


Secretary Zinke,

This letter regards Executive Order 13792, and specifically Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah.

Bears Ears is home to several thousand archaeological sites. The sites themselves as well as the landscape are sacred to several Native American tribes. As such, the advocacy group Utah Diné Bikeyah formed from a collaborative effort between these tribes to protect this landscape. If there ever was a place that the Antiquities Act seems “written for,” Bears Ears most certainly is it. When President Obama designated the national monument in December 2016, it was was worthy of celebration because the preservation of these sites is now guaranteed as part of our national heritage. President Obama’s proclamation was also a testament to the sovereignty of these tribes, and the importance of their history to the nation.

Within the monument, recreational activities that were permissible before the monument designation are still allowed. With a permit, people can still gather firewood, herbs, and shrubs. Thus, the use and enjoyment of the land has not been affected. However, I am writing this letter to specifically address two other arguments against Bears Ears. The first is the size of the monument, and the economic impact that could have on local communities.

thunderstorm and fiery sunset at bears ears buttes in san juan county utah

In 2013, Representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz put forward what they called the Public Lands Initiative (PLI), in which they would set aside part of the Bears Ears region as a national recreation area, which would essentially provide the same protections from oil and gas development or uranium mining as a monument designation under the Antiquities Act. Utah Diné Bikeyah proposed a similar, albeit larger, set of borders for their visualized national monument.

When the Obama administration designated Bears Ears National Monument, the borders they drafted more closely matched the national recreation area proposed in the PLI than those proposed by Utah Diné Bikeyah. What’s more, GIS data from the state of Utah show that the majority of oil and gas wells currently lie outside of the monument (possibly due to low success and complex terrain for drilling). The area’s most significant coal reserves lie completely outside of the monument boundaries. No areas within the monument are currently classified as having “high potential” for uranium mines either. When the monument was created, these data must surely have been available to the Obama administration.

Finally, critics have expressed concern for Utah’s schools. There are several inholdings of state trust land parcels within Bears Ears; they cannot be developed for mineral extraction because they lie within the monument. In 1996, when President Clinton designated Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the federal government and the state eventually “swapped” for 139,000 acres of federal land that was outside of the monument with the Utah Trust Lands Administration for those types of private inholdings. In addition, the federal government paid the state of Utah $50 million. To date, the mineral extraction from that swapped land has yielded ~$1.7 billion in revenue for the state of Utah. Senator Bennett called this a “model for future land swaps,” and I agree with him. It was a win-win for all parties, and I believe it could work equally well in Bears Ears.

I grew up in the northwestern corner of New Mexico, and had many backpacking outings in the Bears Ears region. With my dad, and with my Boy Scout troop, we explored many of the canyons on Cedar Mesa, and saw many of the archaeological sites that are now protected. These are some of my fondest memories of time spent in the outdoors. Just like so many of our national parks and monuments, Bears Ears is one of our national treasures. As Westerners, we are bound to protect these lands; it is not in our nature to hastily exploit them for short-term gain. The preservation of Bears Ears keeps a promise to past and future generations, and is one that can transcend partisan politics. Please join me in standing with Bears Ears and making it our nation’s common ground.

photo of valley of the gods located in bears ears national monument

 

A letter to Secretary Zinke

Written by Alpenglow Images on May 8th, 2017

Dear Interior Secretary Zinke:

Last Friday, your office released a memo of the National Monuments under review per executive order 13792. This letter is regarding that order.

Much has been written about the “Western ethos.” This intangible set of characteristics enabled the pioneers to settle and explore the lands west of the Mississippi. Today that same tenacity and those values live on in Westerners who eek out a living in our arid Western landscape. Perhaps more than any of the other values, vision is the one I think is the most uniquely Western. Today, just as 150 years ago, we have a vision of what the West should be; our collective actions have been an (often unsuccessful) attempt to make the landscape to conform with our vision.

In the Antiquities Act, Theodore Roosevelt also had a vision for the West. The national monuments he and the presidents who have followed him have left behind for America are a tangible reminder of Western vision and tenacity. As Wallace Stegner said, the Western landscape–whose crown jewels are protected by our national parks and monuments–is what we as a people have built our very character against.

Much of this land has inherent monetary value, as the men who have looted archaeological sites for years on Cedar Mesa, which is now protected as part of Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, would tell you. Or the men who want to drill oil and gas wells in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii or mine uranium from Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona, would tell you. However, some of it simply has been protected for the sake of protection.

thunderstorm and fiery sunset at bears ears buttes in san juan county utah

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in southern California houses three federally-designated Wildernesses, and is home to last bighorn sheep herd in the Transverse Ranges. Carrizo Plain National Monument in California is the home of critically endangered species such as the giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens, a keystone species), San Joaquin antelope ground squirrel (Ammospermophilus nelsoni), and San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica). Finally, back to Bears Ears and moving beyond its monetary value, the monument symbolizes Native American sovereignty, and our government’s heartfelt acknowledgement that indigenous tribal history is one of the threads that holds our nation together.

antelope ground squirrel with grass in its mouth at carrizo plain national monument in southern california

In using the Antiquities Act, President Roosevelt personified the characteristic of possessing vision. He also showed incredible restraint, the rarest of virtues. The President would have remained vigilant of the landscape’s monetary value to the people, but he would have reminded us sometimes we need to protect a place simply so that future generations can experience it. In this sense, he would have worked to compromise in the creation of National Monuments. Indeed, the men who followed Roosevelt saw that that was the case in Grand Staircase-Escalante, Gold Butte, Grand Canyon-Parashant, and the others. Borders of these monuments were carefully set, with the interests of all “sides” in mind.

As a self-proclaimed disciple of Mr. Roosevelt, I’m sure you are familiar with his New Nationalism speech from 1910, in which he said, “It is of little use for us to pay lip-loyalty to the mighty men of the past unless we sincerely endeavor to apply to the problems of the present precisely the qualities which in other crises enabled the men of that day to meet those crises.” Secretary Zinke, I am asking you to look not only at our past, but also how far we’ve come as a nation as you endeavor to begin this review of our National Monuments. To paraphrase John Sawhill, you have the ability to ensure that future generations judge us by what we have chosen to protect, rather than by what we have extracted from the earth.

Keep our National Monuments intact.

apricot globe mallow wildflowers and buttes near lake mead at sunrise in gold butte national monument, nevada