by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel

When Americans hear about a crisis, their instinct is to spring into action, to do something right away. Do whatever it takes, as Mayor Shinn in “The Music Man” says, “to prevent this dire happening from… uhm… happening.”

What they don’t do first, as a rule, is pause to ask exactly what the crisis is, what caused it and what will happen if action is not taken. There will be time to sort all these details out later, they reason. But for now, we must act because this is a crisis! Now!

I think about this characteristic instinct whenever there is a call to “protect” important and valuable natural resources, such as forests, deserts, water and wildlife. They must be protected for future generations and it is borderline criminal that we have not yet done so. Does anyone stop to wonder what exactly these resources must be protected from and why they have not previously been protected?

The latest case-in-point is a petition, hearings and a rash of lobbying to convince the president to designate a new national monument called Chuckwalla, in the California Desert between Joshua Tree National Park and the Salton Sea. It is the dream of a coalition called “Protect California Deserts,” whose signatories include the local Audubon Society, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Wilderness Society, Mojave Desert Land Trust, Conservation Lands Foundation, Wildlands Network, Cactus to Clouds Institute … and others. It has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Times and numerous other media outlets.

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