New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Death Valley

When I visit a place like Death Valley National Monument, I always think how wonderful it is that earlier generations set these places aside for future generations to enjoy. The unselfish, farsightedness of leaders like Teddy Roosevelt is why we have so many pieces of the wild left for us to visit and see a tiny bit of what the nation was like before the necessary settlements changed its landscape forever. Once you use something, there is no taking it back or at least not for many many generations. All the big box stores may someday close their doors, but the buildings will remain.
So it was with especial pleasure that I saw President Obama sign the bill into law that sets aside an additional 2,000,000 acres in states all across the country. I know how some view this-- save nothing and use it all today; but thank goodness there are those (and many were Republicans) who worked to extend our protected lands. It had been 15 years since anything had been set aside; and for some parks with garish development encroaching on their borders, it's too late but we should save what we can.
This was my first time to drive through the heart of Death Valley although I had been at one corner of it. I was in awe of the interesting rock formations, the varying colors from all the mineralization, the beauty from the tiniest wildflowers to the highest cliffs. I definitely want to return to spend more time hiking some of its trails.

The coyote was right on the road, and only one thing kept him from getting a cookie from me-- the sign on the admittance sticker with an image of a hand feeding a coyote and a big X through it. Obviously Death Valley coyotes have learned to milk the system. He had his act down well as he looked so hungry and cute.

This dainty little flower is the Desert Five-Spot according to research I did after I got to Tucson. You'd think someone would have come up with a more beautiful name for such a lovely little flower.


16 comments:

robin andrea said...

Great photographs, rain. I've never been to Death Valley, and it's likely I never will. So it's grand to take a look through your eyes. Love those flowers.

Kay Dennison said...

Great photos!!!!! And I learned some new things!!! You have made my day!!!

Ingineer66 said...

Terrific photos Rain, but I have to take exception that it has been 15 years since anything has been set aside. President Clinton designated several new national parks and wilderness areas and President George W. Bush designated more acres as wildlife preserves than any president in history and some of those were right before he left office.

Rain said...

If you can find a link for that, let me know. ingineer as I had read that it had been 15 years which put it during Clinton's time in office and not Bush's. I know Bush vetoed an attempt to do what this bill did. I tried to find an article to confirm what you said but can't; so if you can, please add it here. You sure it wasn't big Bush? *s*

Ingineer66 said...

Here are two links from the marine sanctuaries right before W left office in January 2009 which also talks about him designating the Northwest Hawaiian Islands as a preserve in 2006. The HWHI was a huge victory for birds, seals, fish, turtles and corals among other creatures as there are dozens of islands and reefs protected.

President Clinton protected lands in 1996 and in 2000. I guess 96 is 13 years which is close to 15 and in terms of todays journalistic integrity and accuracy is close enough. But 2000, 2006 and 2009 definitely are not.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/environment/jan-june09/marine_01-06.html

http://www.eagleworldnews.com/2009/01/07/president-bush-establishes-pacific-marine-sanctuary/

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-810620.html

http://usparks.about.com/library/weekly/aa011900a.htm

Rain said...

thank you, ingineer and I reread my link and it said the most significant wilderness designation in 15 years; so it might depend on interpretations. Plus obviously 2 million is a lot. At any rate, all that can be done is good no matter who did it.

Ingineer66 said...

I guess my previous comment helps explain my reason for commenting in the first place. I am a fan of journalistic accuracy. And what we get today has little to do with integrity, accuracy or hard work. I am so sick of stories that say something is the biggest ever or the worst in history when I can remember similar items that were worse or bigger or whatever. And I am only 43 years old. The sensationalism overrules facts and research and that may have a place in the Weekly World News but not the 6-o'clock news. Sorry not really on the topic of wilderness protection. I guess I just went off there.

Ingineer66 said...

I was curious about what happened 15 years ago that was so great and I found an article that said the California Desert protection act of 1994 was one of the most significant wilderness designations ever passed by Congress. So there you have it. Bush sets aside 125 million acres in one act and 89 million acres in another but Obama setting aside 2 million acres is best thing since Congress acted in 1994 and that was the best ever. :-)

Rain said...

1994 was Clinton and I see nowhere that Bush set aside that much acreage. From what I remember, he blocked a lot of such possibilities. The marine protection was good but he also wanted to drill again out there which might negate it. I wasn't criticizing Bush though on this but simply quoting what the article said which was that not much has been preserved in recent times. And it has been now with Republican and Democratic help and President Obama to sign it which Bush might well have refused. We don't know

Rain said...

and i appreciate all comments. Yours seemed right in line here, ingineer.

Ingineer66 said...

Just to keep this going a little longer. I know 94 was Clinton. The two acts by Bush were given in square miles not acres so I converted.
Bush did block some wilderness areas because they are not always what they seem. Some places are true wilderness and should be designated so. But some places especially in overpopulated California have been logged or have roads and houses in them and should not be designated as wilderness, but some groups in the environmental movement seem to want most of the country closed off to human intrusion except for the select chosen that have keys to the gates. Like most political issues there are many sides and angles but only the buzz words make the news.

Rain said...

Having read the article, I didn't really understand the gist of it as in was it miles long but feet thick, etc. but wilderness in the ocean where nobody can touch it anyway probably doesn't do as much for the American psyche as wilderness that we can hike into or even enjoy from the edges. Not saying it wasn't good to do but a developer couldn't put a big box store there nor a resort, so likely not as much pressure to not do it.

For someone who only values motorized vehicles, yes, I guess wilderness doesn't seem of value; but if you like to snowshoe, hike or even camp, well it becomes very important. If you would like to see wildlife as it was originally living or even that it continues to exist, it matters.

I don't know why you always defend Bush as he blocked a lot of good programs. In the case of the recent 2,000,000 acres, they were mostly extensions of existing protected lands. For those who want to see it all developed, keep in mind, protected lands could probably someday be used. Used lands cannot go back for many generations into a natural state.

I admire very much earlier generations, made up I am sure of both political groups, who unselfishly set aside so much of what we enjoy today. If developers even back then had had their way, none of it would be protected. It has never been easy to get such laws passed for protecting lands from money users. I think our whole nation and frankly that of the world would have been the losers in that case.

When I am in such places, I often see those from other lands also. If some Americans don't see their value, other countries obviously do.

Ingineer66 said...

I am not trying to argue with you or defend Bush. Just thought it was funny that he did do some really good stuff protecting marine life and it totally gets ignored by the media. And I agree setting things aside is a good thing. But there is a need for balance. There does need to be some ranching and some mining and some drilling and some logging in this country. The United States is a big place and all of it does not need to be wilderness.
Oh and some day I plan to take a trip to Midway Island to see the marine and bird life that is protected out there. If regular citizens will still be allowed to get a permit to visit when I am ready. The way things are going I will probably have to bribe some Congressman to get permission to visit land paid for by my tax dollars.

Rain said...

The problem with Bush was who controlled him (in my view). His party wanted development and whether he actually created what you are talking about or signed into law something that others set up, I don't know. What I do know is if some developer wanted it, it might not have happened.

As for crediting Bush with good things. I have mentioned a few here; but in general how much credit is most of the right wing giving Obama? When one party wins generally they want different things than the other approves of. I feel that Bush did a lot to deteriorate our national park system and forests and to the gain of a few. We obviously disagree on the importance of wilderness. Believe me our country is not in danger of having too much prime wilderness set aside. Very little is in comparison to what is available to log, mine (at a gov't loss) or develop. It's hard for me to understand why the right begrudges what there is. Some would undo what is already there and not because the land is needed but because it's a moneymaker for a donor to one of the parties.

Ingineer66 said...

I do not begrudge what he have or want to open up what has already been set aside.

Rain said...

but that's land other generations set aside. You didn't do it. How about what you are willing to preserve? I am particularly sensitive to this after getting down here to Tucson and right across from my favorite state park with trails that take you through the cactus, to some lovely places on the creek, right across the highway is going in a huge mall. Some would like to build homes on the hills above the park, around it and if the land isn't protected, that will happen. The end result will be less room for wildlife and less of the natural experience that hikers now can enjoy. I think often how much earlier generations did of protection but this generation seems to think a park should be neatly embraced by fences and have fast food outside its gates.