Leaving His Mark

Moments before President-elect Barack Obama will swear into office, President George Bush is making a last effort to leave his mark in the area of marine conservation.

President Bush is set to designate nine sites in three areas of the Pacific as marine national monuments. The new areas will make up the largest area set aside for marine conservation in the world. Covering 195,280 square miles--in addition to the 138,000 square miles designated in Hawaii two years ago--Bush will leave office having protected more of the ocean than any other president.

Introduced by President Theodore Roosevelt, the 1906 Antiquities Act allows presidents to use executive order to set aside public lands, such as the Grand Canyon, as national monuments. The Marine Conservation Biology Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund partnered to identify eight of the nine sights: Rose Atoll, Wake Island, Johnston Island, Palmyra Island, Kingman Reef, Baker Island, Howland Island and Jarvis Island. The Pew Environmental Fund identified the ninth site, which includes the waters around the northern Marianas and the deepest ocean canyon in the world. The sites are known for their biological diversity and are home to many endangered species.

In a presidency that has received mixed reviews especially when it comes to environmental issues, this act toward marine conservation is certainly a step in the right direction.