Friday, March 13, 2009

Grizzly Bear National Monument

On first glance, the idea of a Grizzly Bear National Monument might seem a little absurd. Dedicated to the killing of California's last grizzly bear in 1908, it would be a reminder of extinction and our duty to wildlife. But I actually think it might be a good idea. I've talked before about how I would like to see the National Park Service interpret more of the darker side of the American history. (It turns out since I wrote that original post that a tiny Mexican War site has been created near Brownsville, Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site--I visited it and it was OK--so I've been satisfied on one point). I think such a program would raise a lot of awareness about some tricky issues in our past and would go a long ways toward a fuller teaching of U.S. history.

The Grizzly Bear National Monument would protect important chaparral habitat in the southern California mountains, would be a great teaching opportunity to discuss Americans' history with wildlife, overhunting, and extinction, while also showing some of the success stories in bringing certain species back. It would enhance the local economy as well. It might raise tricky questions on whether to bring grizzly bears back to California, but that is a debate worth having. I see little reason not to support this interesting idea.

You can hear more about it here, even if the narrator leaves something to be desired.