THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release November 9, 2000
VERMILION CLIFFS NATIONAL MONUMENT
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Amid the sandstone slickrock, brilliant cliffs, and rolling sandy
plateaus of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument lie outstanding objects
of scientific and historic interest. Despite its arid climate and rugged
isolation, the monument contains a wide variety of biological objects and
has a long and rich human history. Full of natural splendor and a sense of
solitude, this area remains remote and unspoiled, qualities that are
essential to the protection of the scientific and historic objects it
The monument is a geological treasure. Its centerpiece is the
majestic Paria Plateau, a grand terrace lying between two great geologic
structures, the East Kaibab and the Echo Cliffs monoclines. The Vermilion
Cliffs, which lie along the southern edge of the Paria Plateau, rise 3,000
feet in a spectacular escarpment capped with sandstone underlain by
multicolored, actively eroding, dissected layers of shale and sandstone.
The stunning Paria River Canyon winds along the east side of the plateau to
the Colorado River. Erosion of the sedimentary rocks in this 2,500 foot
deep canyon has produced a variety of geologic objects and associated
landscape features such as amphitheaters, arches, and massive sandstone
In the northwest portion of the monument lies Coyote Buttes, a
geologically spectacular area where crossbeds of the Navajo Sandstone
exhibit colorful banding in surreal hues of yellow, orange, pink, and red
caused by the precipitation of manganese, iron, and other oxides. Thin
veins or fins of calcite cut across the sandstone, adding another dimension
to the landscape. Humans have explored and lived on the plateau and
surrounding canyons for thousands of years, since the earliest known
hunters and gatherers crossed the area 12,000 or more years ago. Some of
the earliest rock art in the Southwest can be found in the monument. High
densities of Ancestral Puebloan sites can also be found, including remnants
of large and small villages, some with intact standing walls, fieldhouses,
trails, granaries, burials, and camps.
The monument was a crossroad for many historic expeditions. In 1776,
the Dominguez-Escalante expedition of Spanish explorers traversed the
monument in search of a safe crossing of the Colorado River. After a first
attempt at crossing the Colorado near the mouth of the Paria River failed,
the explorers traveled up the Paria Canyon in the monument until finding a
steep hillside they could negotiate with horses. This took them out of the
Paria Canyon to the east and up into the Ferry Swale area, after which they
achieved their goal at the Crossing of the Fathers east of the monument.
Antonio Armijo?s 1829 Mexican trading expedition followed the Dominguez
route on the way from Santa Fe to Los Angeles.
Later, Mormon exploring parties led by Jacob Hamblin crossed south of
the Vermilion Cliffs on missionary expeditions to the Hopi villages.
Mormon pioneer John D. Lee established Lee?s Ferry on the Colorado River
just south of the monument in 1871. This paved the way for homesteads in
the monument, still visible in remnants of historic ranch structures and
associated objects that tell the stories of early settlement. The route
taken by the Mormon explorers along the base of the Paria Plateau would
later become known as the Old Arizona Road or Honeymoon Trail. After the
temple in St. George, Utah was completed in 1877, the Honeymoon Trail was
used by Mormon couples who had already been married by civil authorities in
the Arizona settlements, but also made the arduous trip to St. George to
have their marriages solemnized in the temple. The settlement of the
monument area by Mormon pioneers overlapped with another historic
exploration by John Wesley Powell, who passed through the monument during
his scientific surveys of 1871.
The monument contains outstanding biological objects that have been
preserved by remoteness and limited travel corridors. The monument?s
vegetation is a unique combination of cold desert flora and warm desert
grassland, and includes one threatened species, Welsh?s milkweed. This
unusual plant, known only in Utah and Arizona, colonizes and stabilizes
shifting sand dunes, but is crowded out once other vegetation encroaches.
Despite sporadic rainfall and widely scattered ephemeral water
sources, the monument supports a variety of wildlife species. At least
twenty species of raptors have been documented in the monument, as well as
a variety of reptiles and amphibians. California condors have been
reintroduced into the monument in an effort to establish another wild
population of this highly endangered species. Desert bighorn sheep,
pronghorn antelope, mountain lion, and other mammals roam the canyons and
plateaus. The Paria River supports sensitive native fish, including the
flannelmouth sucker and the speckled dace.
Section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431)
authorizes the President, in his discretion, to declare by public
proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and
other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the
lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be
national monuments, and to reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the
limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area
compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be
WHEREAS it appears that it would be in the public interest to reserve
such lands as a national monument to be known as the Vermilion Cliffs
NOW, THEREFORE, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States
of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Act of June
8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431), do proclaim that there are hereby
set apart and reserved as the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, for the
purpose of protecting the objects identified above, all lands and interests
in lands owned or controlled by the United States within the boundaries of
the area described on the map entitled "Vermilion Cliffs National Monument"
attached to and forming a part of this proclamation. The Federal land and
interests in land reserved consist of approximately 293,000 acres, which is
the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the
objects to be protected.
All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of this
monument are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from all forms of entry,
location, selection, sale, or leasing or other disposition under the public
land laws, including but not limited to withdrawal from location, entry,
and patent under the mining laws, and from disposition under all laws
relating to mineral and geothermal leasing, other than by exchange that
furthers the protective purposes of the monument. For the purpose of
protecting the objects identified above, the Secretary shall prohibit all
motorized and mechanized vehicle use off road, except for emergency or
authorized administrative purposes.
Lands and interests in lands within the proposed monument not owned by
the United States shall be reserved as a part of the monument upon
acquisition of title thereto by the United States.
The Secretary of the Interior shall manage the monument through the
Bureau of Land Management, pursuant to applicable legal authorities, to
implement the purposes of this proclamation.
The Secretary of the Interior shall prepare a transportation plan that
addresses the actions, including road closures or travel restrictions,
necessary to protect the objects identified in this proclamation.
The establishment of this monument is subject to valid existing
Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to enlarge or diminish
the jurisdiction of the State of Arizona with respect to fish and wildlife
This proclamation does not reserve water as a matter of Federal law.
Nothing in this reservation shall be construed as a relinquishment or
reduction of any water use or rights reserved or appropriated by the United
States on or before the date of this proclamation. The Secretary shall
work with appropriate State authorities to ensure that any water resources
needed for monument purposes are available.
Laws, regulations, and policies followed by the Bureau of Land
Management in issuing and administering grazing permits or leases on all
lands under its jurisdiction shall continue to apply with regard to the
lands in the monument.
Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to revoke any existing
withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation; however, the national monument
shall be the dominant reservation.
Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to appropriate,
injure, destroy, or remove any feature of this monument and not to locate
or settle upon any of the lands thereof.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth
day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand, and of the
Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
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