“On a picturesque Wood River Valley June day last summer, I stayed inside and made myself mad. I closed my shades, went to my corner chair, and sat in silence as I wrote my emotional appeal to Secretary Zinke of the Department of the Interior,” writes first-year Bowdoin student Cooper Dart ’21 in a recent guest column for the Idaho Mountain Express.
When Dart’s beloved Craters of the Moon National Monument was under threat, “[i]t felt as if Zinke wanted to strip this value, this blood and awe, from both myself and future generations,” he writes.
Dart laments Zinke’s final decision to shrink two national monuments (not Craters in the end, but Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante) by two millions acres. This fall, studying at Bowdoin, Dart said he considered flying to Utah and chaining himself to a rock in front of bulldozers to protest. Instead, he responsibly went to class. He is planning to major in environmental studies.
Though he’s far from home, moving to Maine this fall reinforced Dart’s love for the West. “We have wilderness areas forever protecting the Sawtooth, Boulder and White Clouds mountains,” he describes. “Idahoan land is tremendously protected and available. All of which makes it so much more heartbreaking that in today’s political climate, pristine public land, the trademark of the West, is ephemeral.”