Monumental Confusion

Free Range Cow in the SouthwestTrue or False: Cattle grazing is allowed inside of National Monuments. The answer: TRUE! Can you believe it? There is a catch, of course. Not all National Monuments are managed by the National Park Service. So, if you happen to travel through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, you may expect to find cattle wondering around because the monument is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. That may leave you wondering, why designate an area as "Monument" if the management objectives for that area don't change? What was the point in protecting it?

A group backed by the Grand Canyon Trust came up with a clever way to force change in Grand Staircase-Escalante. The group, called the Canyonlands Grazing Corp. bought grazing rights in the Monument with the idea that they would never actually graze cattle in the area. Ranchers and local government sued because the loss of grazing land would mean lower cattle production, which could lead to a locally depressed economy. So far though, judges have found in favor of the Canyonlads Grazing Corp.

If you are interested, here are the other National Monuments that are not operated by the National Park Service (as listed on the NPS website):
Three (Becharof, Yukon Flats, and Hanford Reach) remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and two (Admiralty Island, Misty Fjords, Grand Sequoia) are under the U.S Forest Service. The Bureau of Land Management manages Grand Staircase-Escalante, Agua Fria, Grand Canyon-Parashant, California Coastal, Ironwood Forest, Canyons of the Ancients, Cascade-Siskiyou, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, Vermilion Cliffs, Carrizo Plain, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, Pompeys Pillar, Sonoran Desert, and Upper Missouri River Breaks. The Armed Forces Retirement Home administers Abraham Lincoln and Soldiers' Home in cooperation with the National Park Service. Eleven national monuments (Lewis and Clark Cavern, Wheeler, Shoshone Cavern, Papago Saguaro, Old Kasaan, Verendrye, Fossil Cycad, Castle Pinckney, Father Millet Cross, Holy Cross, Santa Rosa Island) were transferred from the NPS to other federal, state, or local jurisdictions by Congress.
Confused yet? How 'bout this? Which is managed by the Park Service, and which is managed by the Forest Service?


Answer: Lassen and Capulin are Park Service, St. Helens is Forest Service. This whole thing would be much less confusing if managing lands as National Monuments meant the same thing across agencies. Otherwise, having protection as "monument" begins to lose its meaning.