Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 | 2 a.m.
President Barack Obama’s designation of Fort Monroe last week as a national monument is an appropriate recognition of the place in Virginia where it is reported that the first slaves arrived in colonial America and where escaped slaves first joined Union forces during the Civil War. It is literally the place where slavery started and ended in our country.
While Fort Monroe is a nationally significant place in America worthy of recognition and protection, it never would have won federal protection without strong local support from the citizens and communities of coastal Virginia. For their effort, the residents of coastal Virginia will garner the jobs and local economic benefits that come with that protection.
There are other sites worthy of protection as national parks, wilderness and monuments. As a Clark County commissioner, I encourage the president and Congress to consider worthy candidates in the West, and specifically in Southern Nevada, to be the nation’s next protected area.
In just one promising site, scientists from across the world recently visited Las Vegas’ proposed Ice Age Park in the northwest Las Vegas Valley, providing solid evidence of the economic benefits of protection of unique resources. The park at Tule Springs gives us a periscope to peer far back in time, when mastodons and giant sloths roamed the region and left their bones to fossilize in the stream beds near our present-day homes.
There are similar areas that celebrate our rich natural heritage in the West and deserve permanent protection. I want to be sure our children and grandchildren can always enjoy and learn from that heritage. As Virginians now know, and Nevadans surely agree, we can and should protect areas unique to our history and communities. Such efforts provide economic opportunities and improve our quality of life.
A native Nevadan, Lawrence Weekly is a Clark County commissioner. He represents District D.