THE BLOG
03/22/2013 02:42 pm ET Updated May 22, 2013

Preserving National Treasures

With the stroke of a pen, President Obama is expected to protect a national treasure in northern New Mexico, along with four other natural, cultural and historical landmarks.

The Wilderness Society has worked for many years to with local partners to protect Rio Grande del Norte in northern New Mexico. The roughly 240,000 acre new national monument is best known for the stunning Rio Grande Gorge and Ute Mountain, which measures over 10,000 feet tall.

The area boasts scenic views, serves as a home for wildlife and provides clean water to surrounding and downstream communities. It is also a recreational hotspot for hikers and bikers, rafters and bird watchers, and hunters and anglers. The national monument will also protect the Rio Grande, an important source of water for surrounding communities and a sacred part of northern New Mexico heritage.

For years, unlikely friendships, partnerships and bonds have been forged, all in the name of protecting Rio Grande del Norte. The surrounding community has worked with New Mexico elected officials to protect this special place, but over the past two years, Congress failed to protect any new land as a national park, monument or wilderness area, including Rio Grande del Norte.

Now, thanks to the Antiquities Act, President Obama is able to rise above the partisan politics of the day and protect America's natural legacy for future generations to enjoy.

While Rio Grande del Norte is certainly worth celebrating in its own right, President Obama is also expected to protect Bureau of Land Management Lands in the peaceful and historic San Juan Islands in Washington State. This iconic place in the Pacific Northwest holds roughly 1,000 acres of public land and 75 historic sites. Our new San Juan Islands National Monument will permanently protect important cultural places -- such as the lighthouse on Patos Island -- while also boosting tourism and helping the local economy.

In addition to protecting these natural wonders, President Obama will also use the Antiquities Act to protect as national monuments places that honor, remember and recognize: Harriet Tubman, several Delaware historical sites, and Charles Young, who served as the first African-American acting superintendent of a national park (Sequoia-Kings Canyon).

Please help us thank President Obama, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the elected officials who made these critical protections possible!