City of Waco spokesman Jonathan Cook says national-monument status would not only help guarantee continued protection of the Waco Mammoth Site, it would provide a significant economic boost to the region in the form of increased tourism.
"It's a good way to look at a partnership between a local government and the federal government, to make sure that, from a conservation standpoint, our parks are being taken care of and promoted in the right way."
Jim DiPeso, vice president for policy and communications with Republicans for Environmental Protection, says the group's priorities include HR 1545, the Waco Mammoth National Monument Establishment Act. He acknowledges Congress has been swamped lately, but says there is no good reason to delay bills that lawmakers actually agree on.
"They will help protect scenic wonders and treasures that everybody can enjoy. They also will benefit the wildlife habitat. So there shouldn't be any controversy about putting these bills on the calendar and getting on to other business."
DiPeso says his group's mission is to move the GOP more to the ideological center when it comes to conservation. He points out that some of the nation's major environmental decisions were made by Republican presidents, from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan.
"The issue has become partisan. What we're here to say is, as conservatives, Republicans need to understand that the root of the word 'conservative' is to conserve."
Some House Republicans have expressed concern recently that designating more wilderness could restrict access for job-creating activities such as logging and mining. However, DiPeso's group points to plenty of public land already available for multiple uses and says that wilderness also brings economic benefits.
Information about Republicans for Environmental Protection is available at http://bit.ly/GHYdCe. More information about the Waco Mammoth Site is at www.wacomammoth.org.