Page:United States Statutes at Large Volume 110 Part 6.djvu/741

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PROCLAMATION 6920—SEPT. 18, 1996 110 STAT. 4563 Spanning five life zones from low-lying desert to coniferous forest, with scarce and scattered water sources, the monument is an outstanding biological resource. Remoteness, limited travel corridors and low visitation have all helped to preserve intact the monument's important ecological values. The blending of warm and cold desert floras, along with the high number of endemic species, place this area in the heart of perhaps the richest floristic region in the Intermountain West. It contains an abundance of unique, isolated communities such as hanging gardens, tinajas, and rock crevice, canyon bottom, and dunal pocket communities, which have provided refugia for many ancient plant species for millennia. Geologic uplift with minimal deformation and subsequent downcutting by streams have exposed large expanses of a variety of geologic strata, each with unique physical and chemical characteristics. These strata are the parent material for a spectacular array of unusual and diverse soils that support many different vegetative communities and numerous types of endemic plants and their pollinators. This presents an extraordinary opportunity to study plant speciation and community dynamics independent of climatic variables. The monument contains an extraordinary number of areas of relict vegetation, many of which have existed since the Pleistocene, where natural processes continue unaltered by man. These include relict grasslands, of which No Mans Mesa is an outstanding example, and pinon-juniper communities containing trees up to 1,400 years old. As witnesses to the past, these relict areas establish a baseline against which to measure changes in community dynamics and biogeochemical cycles in areas impacted by human activity. Most of the ecological communities contained in the monument have low resistance to, and slow recovery from, disturbance. Fragile cryptobiotic crusts, themselves of significant biological interest, play a critical role throughout the monument, stabilizing the highly erodible desert soils and providing nutrients to plants. An abundance of packrat middens provides insight into the vegetation and climate of the past 25,000 years and furnishes context for studies of evolution and climate change. The wildlife of the monument is characterized by a diversity of species. The monument varies greatly in elevation and topography and is in a climatic zone where northern and southern habitat species intermingle. Mountain lion, bear, and desert bighorn sheep roam the monument. Over 200 species of birds, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons, are found within the area. Wildlife, including neotropical birds, concentrate around the Paria and Escalante Rivers and other riparian corridors within the monument. 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 protected. 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 Grand Staircase-Escalante Na-