One of the hallmarks of democracy is the chance to participate in important decisions that affect us. Often this participation isn’t very direct — most of us don’t spend our days making laws; we elect folks to represent us at the local, state and national level.
The Conservancy has been involved with the Hanford Reach landscape since the 1980s, and we were in the thick of the fight to protect this national treasure for nearly 20 years. Learn more.
But regular citizens do have the chance to speak our piece: We do so by writing to our representatives, posting on their social-media sites, writing letters to the editor of our local newspapers and participating in town halls hosted by legislators or public agencies.
There was plenty of opportunity for comment prior to Hanford Reach’s designation as a national monument in 2000, but the Reach still finds itself among the more than two dozen national monuments under review by the U.S. Department of Interior this year. This gives us all the opportunity to say — for some of us to say again — that protecting this unique ecosystem is important to us.
Several of our members and supporters have asked for guidance on how to craft a public comment. While we encourage you to write from your heart about the value that Hanford Reach and other national monuments hold for you, your family and your communities, below are some points that may be useful:
- Hanford Reach National Monument, which includes the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River, is a treasure that should be preserved in its current form.
- The monument contains some of the most productive salmon spawning areas in the Northwest. It also has hundreds of species of plants, insects and animals, many of which are rare.
- Hanford Reach is a great place for recreation, with many opportunities for fishing, hunting, hiking, birdwatching, horseback riding and picture-taking.
- One of the highlights of the monument, the beautiful and iconic White Bluffs, was formed millions of years ago. The bluffs contain a wealth of fossils, including mastodons, camels, zebras and rhinoceros.
- Please protect Hanford Reach as a national monument so that future generations can enjoy this national gem.
We thought that Hanford Reach National Monument would be protected forever, but the reach needs us now. We once again have the chance to speak up for nature, and each of our voices can help make a difference.