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Inclusion On National Monuments Review Said To 'Undermine' Craters Of The Moon

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve was first designated in 1924 and expanded in 2000 to include three main lava fields.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is under review by the Interior Department, and now members of the public are expressing their views about Craters and other monuments. More than 85,000 comments have poured in since the public comment period began less than two weeks ago. 
The agency is scrutinizing 27 of the nation's largest monuments that have been expanded or designated since 1996. Craters was expanded in 2000 to include three main lava fields. 

Dani Mazzotta, the central Idaho director of the Idaho Conservation League, says Craters' inclusion in this review process is surprising.

"This process undermines the true value of Craters of the Moon for the unique landscape that it is, for the history that's there, for what it provides to our local economies, to our local communities," she explains. "It really is a treasure and we should be calling it that."

The monument originally was designated in 1924 by Calvin Coolidge. There have been attempts to upgrade Craters to national park status. A poll by Idaho Politics Weekly found 55 percent of Idahoans would like to see the upgrade. Thirty-two percent want it to keep its current status.

Mazzotta says Craters truly is out of this world.

"It's unlike anything else that you're going to find in Idaho," she adds. "It's unlike anything else you're going to find in our country, and that in itself has value not just to Idahoans but it has value to people in the U.S., people that are coming from across the world to visit."

People can go to regulations.gov before July 10 to comment on the national monuments review process. The comment period for Bears Ears National Monument in Utah closed Friday.