Our Treasure, Our Future – Hanford Reach National Monument

National Monuments Review Sample Comment Scripts for the Savvy Citizen.

 Protect Hanford Reach National Monument

ACTION ALERT: public comment period open for Interior Department’s National Monuments Review–Submit Comments before July 10, 2017. Click here to submit:  Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996

The following is a sample comment submission preceded by background information. Please do not cut and paste the comment script!  Edit the script to make it your own and add personal commentary.  These scripts are designed to inform and are for inspiration and ideas! For ideas on how to write a strong submission, click here: “Suggested Outline or “Hot Topic” Review List for Comments.” 

Protect Hanford Reach National Monument – Sample Script by Guest Contributor P.R. for Monday, June 13, 2017:

Hanford Reach National Monument is part of the mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex that was created by President Clinton in 2000.  This desert ecosystem supports animal and plant systems that have evolved in this secluded environment.  

Because of Hanford’s sequestration post WW2, rich cultural and biological resources were inadvertently protected.  This provides a vast wealth of research and preservation opportunities in this largest remaining area of sagebrush grassland in the United States.  The largest population of elk in the state live in or near Hanford, and it also is a stronghold for several rare or threatened species of plants and animals.  Beaver, mink, otter, as well as 1000’s of insect species that are found nowhere reside at Hanford.

The 1212 mile long Columbia River has only 51 miles that is non-tidal and free flowing, and this section in Hanford is the Northwest’s best spawning ground. For this reason, Patty Murray campaigned to have this section of the Columbia preserved as a wild and scenic river in 1997 and said, “We have asked much of the Columbia River, and it has always given generously.  It has given us affordable energy, turned a desert into a farming oasis, and provided a highway for international commerce. Shouldn’t we now allow it to keep its one last wild Chinook run?”  The largest state population of elk live in or visit Hanford, and the monument also has beaver, mink, and otter.  In all there are 42 species of mammal, 258 bird species pass through, 4 amphibians, 11 reptiles, and 1500 invertebrates have been documented in Hanford.  It is perhaps for these reasons that Hanford is the only National Monument managed by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

Development in SE Washington and NorthCentral Oregon has caused 66% of the native shrub-steppe ecosystem of this area to disappear.  Hanford, however, has retained its native plants with the largest remaining area of sagebrush grassland in the U.S.  The Wahluke Unit is a beautiful area where views of the reach and the White Bluffs above it, allow people to wonder about the geological past.

While the natural beauty of Hanford Reach attracts visitors, more are drawn to the human history of the area.  Hanford contains 150 archaeological sites, with some going back 1000 years, and it also has retained early pioneering sites as well. Still, what it is primarily known for is its role in World War 2.  The plutonium for the nuclear bomb that was eventually dropped on Nagasaki, Japan was produced here.  While this is a part of our past that we would rather forget, it is our past that we must forever be reminded of.  As such, this piece of our world history requires our protection to help assure that we remember the horrible devastation of war.

Because of this human history, Hanford now is considered a National Historic Engineering Landmark, National Historic Landmark, National Civil Engineering Landmark, and is on the register of National Historic Places.  So, as one stands atop Rattlesnake Mountain (3600 feet), the tallest peak in the Columbia Basin where security and communication for Hanford when it was operating, you can observe part of our history as you gaze at deactivated reactors in the distance.  

 Hikers and other outdoor folks have discovered this area.  The Washington Trails Association describes hikes that pass through sand dunes, reminding one of the Sahara, or of spring wildflowers covering slopes.  Commercial tours of the area benefit the economy of the nearby Tri-Cities area.  Numerous hotels there accommodate tourists to this area that was previously unknown.  

Americans deserve areas of preservation such as Hanford Reach as a place where our history and our native environment can be fully appreciated for years to come.  I sincerely hope that this land will have future generations of children visiting and asking their future generations of parents questions about what will be, by then, extinct nuclear weapons.   Only by retaining these significant and unique spots on our planet can we allow the contemplation that is required to thoughtfully consider our impact, both beneficial and detrimental, on Earth.

I know that this is a place where my husband, grandson, and I will be visiting next Fall and we hope that others will follow suit as they learn more about this part of Central Washington.

 

Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanford_Reach_National_Monument

Fish and wild life service:  https://www.fws.gov/refuge/hanford_reach/

Washington trails association:  http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/white-bluffs-north

History link. Org. http://www.historylink.org/File/7438

 

Photo: Water Riffles in Hanford Reach National Monument, Washington, USA. NASA. Fish and Wildlife Service: http://www.fws.gov/hanfordreach/slideshow.html

 

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