Craters of the Moon Expansion
 
 

A proclamation signed by President Clinton last Thursday. November 9, expanded the Craters of the Moon National monument by 661,000 acres, taking in federal land south and southeast of the present National Monument including lava flows along the Great Rift and including the Wapi lava flows and Crystal Ice Caves areas. The expansion also takes in part of the sagebrush steppe area which is utilized as grazing lands for a number of Lost River Valley ranchers. The grazing lands, presently managed under the Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management, will continue under BLM manage-ment, while the lava flows in the ex-pansion area will be managed by the National Park Service, also under the Department of the Interior. The official statement issued with the proclamation said, in part:
"Since April 2000, Secretary Babbitt has visited the area three times and led a process to solicit public input and advice about the future management and protection of the Craters of the Moon region, meeting with leading geologists, local ranchers, local elected officials, and. staff from the Idaho Congressional delegation. Three public meetings were held in May and June 2000 in nearby communities (two in Arco) to discuss the area's possible designation as a national monument. Senator Craig also held a field hearing on June IF, 2000, on the monument expansion. On August 11, 2000, Secretary Babbitt recommended the' expansion of Craters of .the Moon  Monument to the President. President Clinton expanded the national monument on November 9, 2000."


Further information presented with the proclamation, condensed, sets out the following description of the area and management plans:

 
Location: The Craters of the Moon National Monument in central Idaho, approximately 160 miles east of Boise [18 miles west of Arco, [Butte  County] was first proclaimed in 1924 by President · Coolidge. Currently, it comprises 54,440 acres. The expansion brings into the monument approximately 661,000 additional 'acres. of federal land, primarily south of the current boundaries.


Description:  President Coolidge described the volcanic features of Craters of the Moon as of "unusual scientific value and general  interest"--an assertion proven true many times over by the progression of scientists who have studied the lava field and its distinctive flora and fauna, by the NASA astronauts who explored the Monument in preparation for their mis-sion to the moon, and by a quarter million annual visitors.


· The expansion takes in almost all the features of basaltic volcanism, including the craters, cones, lava flows, caves and fissures of the 65 mile long Great Rift, a geological feature that is comparable to the great rift zones of Iceland and Hawaii.  It comprises the most diverse and geologically recent part of the lava terrain that covers the southern Snake River Plain, a broad plain made up of innumerable basalt lava flows that erupted during the past million years. The  unusual' scientific value of the expanded monument is the great diversity of exquisitely preserved volcanic fea-tures within a relatively small area.


Management: The younger exposed lava flows, comprising approximately 410,512 acres, will be managed by the National Park Service. The shrub steppe · lands historically used for grazing within the expansion, comprising approxi-mately 250,775 acres, will continue under the management of the Bureau Of Land Management (BLM). :The land remaining under BLM management also contains several important geological features, such as the 15 mile Bear Trap lava tube and the exposed creases in the earth of the Great Rift that connect the Craters of the Moon and Wapi lava flows. The entire area Will be managed ' for the predominant purpose of protect-ing the geological and other features for 'which the monument has been created. currently permitted livestock grazing; hunting, fishing, bicycling, and similar activities will generally not be affected; nor will private property within the boundary (approximately 6,994 acres) or other valid existing rights such as water rights or access. There are no mineral leases and no known potential for oil, natural gas, or geothermal development in the monument.

 
Process: The boundary of the monu-ment has been adjusted by Presidential Proclamation on four occasions, in 1928, 1930, 1941 and 1962. In 1989-90, then Rep. Richard Stallings introduced legislation to create Craters of the Moon National Park, a proposal that included almost  twice as many acres as this monument expansion proposal.

 

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