Letter: Real progress in public lands, parks

As Martin Luther King’s Birthday weekend just passed, it’s a good time to take stock of our progress in respecting the stories of all Americans.

In what has been a challenging and tense political season, it is worth noting that we’ve made real progress in one area you wouldn’t expect it: our public lands and parks.

The Obama administration made it a priority to make parks, monuments and historic sites that reflect voices and histories that for too long have been underrepresented.

The Cesar Chavez National Monument in California, the Belmont-Sewall National Monument in Washington, D.C., are examples of monuments that celebrate Latino and women’s histories.

The former president’s announcement last week of the Civil Rights and Reconstruction Era National Monuments continues this positive trend. In fact, so little known and misrepresented is the Reconstruction Era that it becomes the first of more than 400 national parks to tell the story of freed slaves blossoming as citizens in the absence of slavery.

The Antiquities Act made all of these places possible, and while it may not be suitable for use everywhere, it is one of America’s most important conservation laws, and we’ll be proud to defend it even as we work with our elected officials to protect our Joshua Tree Forest.

Sharon Baur

Friends of the Joshua Tree Forest

Meadview