May 2017

Living Landscape Observer - Nature, Culture, Community
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Living Landscape Observer
What's in a Name? National Monument Version 
National Monuments were once an obscure protected area designation. Today they are a big story in major news outlets. Reporters are visiting Bears Ears, Grand Staircase - Escalante, and Papahānaumokuākea Marine  National Monuments in record numbers. What put the designation in the headlines? A decision by the new administration to undertake a review of all National Monuments created since January 1, 1996, with a specific focus on those over 100,000 acres. 

The  spotlight on this venerable program has, in turn, led to some misconceptions about public lands and the role of the federal government. Lets look at the history and management of monuments in more detail.  Read the full story here.

The Virtues of Good Government

In this piece, originally published in the May 2017 issue of the George Wright Forum, guest observer Rolf Diamant explores the significance of National Monuments to the National Park system. He profiles Fort Monroe National Monument, located in Hampton, Virginia, as an important example of how monuments have played a key role in expanding the depth and breadth of the stories interpreted at park sites.  Read more.

Looking for Detroit's Urban Landscape
Over the past century, Detroit has served as a bellwether for the broader American economy, with its  factories, many of which now stand vacant, offering tangible evidence of the county's booms and busts. Detroit's landscape is a complex text, offering insight into the rise and decline of American manufacturing, the after-effects of WWII, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, racism and classism. The city also has a rich cultural heritage that is still visible and vibrant. Read about one student's experience seeking this heritage as part of the George Wright Society's Park Break program, which in 2016 focused on implementing the National Park Service's Urban Agenda. Join her in a journey of discovery.

Latest News and Information 

Does the current political situation make you feel like you need to say something? Then here are two opportunities:
  • June 12 - Due date for comments on the White House review of federal agencies, which solicits public "ideas and suggestions on how the government can be better organized to work for the American people."  More information.
  • July 10 - Due date for comments on Department of Interior's review of all National Monuments except Bears Ears NM. that comment period has already closed.  More information.
One recently created National Monument under review is in Maine, the Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument. Learn more about this landscape through a short video introduction. 

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Budget Cuts - Speaking about the NPS Budget
"This budget proposes unprecedented reductions," says Denis P. Galvin, an advisor to the Coalition to Protect America's National Parks, and a former Deputy Director of the National Park Service. "One has to go back to World War II, when the parks were largely shut down, to find comparable reductions." Read more here.

DOI Landscape Program zeroed out
An ambitious, science-based Interior Department program aimed at improving conservation efforts across federal, state, tribal and private lands is on the chopping block. Read the Living Landscape Observer article on the program here.

Critics say the move to gut the $13 million Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) program seems to undermine Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's stated goals to improve and increase coordination across federal bureaus working on conservation. More.

News Flash : Landscape scale work is not faring well. 
About Us

The Living Landscape Observer is a website, blog and monthly e-newsletter that offers commentary and information on the emerging field of large landscape conservation. This approach emphasizes the preservation of a "sense of place" and blends ingredients of land conservation, heritage preservation, and sustainable community development. Learn more about how you can get involved or sign up for the newsletter here.  

Our Mission: To provide observations and information on the emerging fields of landscape scale conservation, heritage preservation and sustainable community development.