By Cathy Baker, Federal Government Relations Director
We are thrilled to learn that U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke plans to leave Hanford Reach National Monument as it is, with no changes to its boundaries or status as a permanently protected National Monument.
Hanford Reach was among dozens of national monuments under review by the Department of the Interior, which is tasked by President Trump to determine whether the monuments’ designations or borders should be rescinded or changed. The public comment period on the monuments ended Monday.
“We’re so proud of the people of Washington — the tribes, fishermen, birders, hikers, hunters and local communities — who all have stood up once more for the Hanford Reach National Monument. We’re grateful to Washington Sens. Murray and Cantwell for their strong leadership, and thankful that Secretary Zinke has listened to the people of Washington and decided to maintain the reach’s integrity as a national monument and continue protecting its natural, cultural and community values.”
– Mikes Stevens, Washington State Director
Many of our partner organizations, members and friends spoke up in defense of Hanford Reach National Monument, submitting public comments urging Secretary Zinke to keep this precious site protected for us and for future generations to learn from and enjoy. These voices for nature included many of you reading this post. Thank you!
Among our many organizational partners, some of whom have been working to protect Hanford Reach since the early 1980s, are birdwatchers, tribes, fishermen, hunters, local government officials, business owners and other environmental groups, including The Wilderness Society, Conservation Northwest, American Whitewater, Washington Conservation Voters, American Rivers, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and EarthJustice.
A special acknowledgement and gratitude goes to our local partner, the Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society, which has been championing the irreplaceable ecosystem of the Hanford Reach for 30 years.
Washington’s U.S. senators also worked tirelessly in defense of Hanford Reach in Congress. Senator Maria Cantwell has spoken publicly on numerous occasions about the importance of continued protection for the reach. We are also grateful for the efforts of Sen. Patty Murray, whose work to protect Hanford Reach dates back to the 1990s when she first co-sponsored legislation to protect it. Both our senators deserve huge thanks from Washingtonians for their leadership, not just on Hanford Reach, but as national leaders in defense of all our national monuments.
We breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate the continued protection of Hanford Reach in Washington. But as Sens. Murray and Cantwell highlighted in their joint press release yesterday, we are acutely aware that two dozen other national monuments around the country are still under review and at risk. As a national conservation organization, we know our work on this is not finished. Many of our country’s most well-loved landscapes and irreplaceable historic sites could be impacted depending on how the rest of the review unfolds this year. We will continue to advocate for the continued protection of all our National Monuments.