1. How do I know this is not a fraud?

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* In 1952, the Elves, Gnomes and Little Men’s Science Fiction,
Chowder and Marching Society of Berkeley, Calif., put its stamp on a
triangular area in the Sea of Tranquility, informing both the United
Nations and the U.S. president of their ownership. It was a “publicity
gag” intended to boost their reputation in the Bay Area; instead, it
made the headlines across the globe. Their claim did not go however
unchallenged; the objection came from one Alexander F. Victor of the
Monterey peninsula, who informed the Little Men that they couldn’t
make a claim on the Moon — because he already owned it.

* In 1953, Jenaro Gajardo Vera, a Chilean lawyer, published a deed
to the moon in his nation’s official record three times, an act he
said made the Moon his. His will left it to the people of Chile.

* In 1955, Robert R. Coles, chairman of New York’s famed Hayden
Planetarium, called the Moon his own and sold parcels for one dollar
per acre.

* And in 1966, 35 citizens of Geneva, Ohio, signed a “Declaration
of Lunar Ownership.” Emulating the US “Declaration of Independence”,
the document avows: “When in the course of human events and space-age
accomplishments, the destiny of mankind becomes influenced … [by] the
presence of a particular controversial Celestial Body unclaimed and
unregulated … it should be advisable and honourable … to lay
definitive and prior claim to the entire physical mass and any and all
aura, aspect, imaginative or otherwise, of … the Moon.”

There are at least a dozen other less-publicized “claims” that have
been made over the years, not one of them any more (or less) valid
than Hope’s dubious claim — only Hope has done a better job promoting


Moon Over Ohio: Residents Claimed Lunar Ownership in 1966  /  April
30, 2004

Who really owns the Moon? A group of Geneva, Ohio, residents say they
claimed Luna as their own back in 1966. And they have the paperwork to
prove it.

GENEVA, OH — Donald Miles, 76, of Geneva is certain he has a deed to
some land on the moon. He just cant remember where he put it. Dick
Whaley, 73, doesnt have a deed, but thanks to his wife Janets sharp
memory, he was able to put his hands on the document in which Geneva
laid claim to the lunar landscape 38 years ago. Miles and Whaley are
among the 35 signatories on the Declaration of Lunar Ownership,” which
was unveiled to the world April 12, 1966, in the auditorium of Geneva
High School. More than 200 persons attended the announcement

…the city this morning is awaiting cablegrams of congratulations
from throughout the world,” noted the Geneva Free Press the following
day. As yet, no word has been received from the Soviet Union.”

The claim was laid in conjunction with a celebration of the citys
100th anniversary, held in early June. The stunt was the brainchild of
the late George Spencer, a furniture store owner who had a knack for
marketing. George was a very innovative guy when it came to
advertising,” recalls Miles.

Miles says Spencer also organized a militia of bearded men to protect
the citys claim to the moon. And Whaley says he recalls the Centennial
Committee building a rocket to the moon where the convenience store
stands on South Broadway. He witnessed the liftoff. The smoke poured
out of it like it was going to the moon,” Whaley says. Everybody
gathered around to watch it, but it just sat there and looked silly.”

The verbose declaration, largely forgotten by the surviving
signatories, declared that The Physical property of the Moon shall
belong exclusively to the citizens of Geneva, Ohio, and any act or
encroachment upon this claim shall be deemed an unfriendly act upon
that lovely little city that is ‘in the know and on the Go, with Ohio
and shall be responded to with all human dignity and moral

The document also gave the city the right to rent or lease its moon
holdings with a two-thirds vote of the citys entire population. And it
provided for the sale of 100 deeds for 100 acres each at a price of
$100. “Yes, I remember them selling them,” says Miles, but I have no
idea how many were sold.”

In justifying the citys claim, City Councilman John Haeseler told the
citizens that the rays of the Geneva moon were the reason for many of
the advantages to living and doing business in Geneva. His politically
incorrect speech argued that Geneva women are more beautiful than
women from any other location in the world. The moonbeams mature,
soften and perfect their complexions, statures and general loveliness
better than any other place on earth.” The moonbeams also were
credited for producing superior fruit, mops, rubber products, golf
shafts and weather.

The stunt was evidently quickly forgotten and nothing more ever made
of the citys bogus claim. Further, in 1967, the United Nations Outer
Space Treaty stipulated that no government could own extraterrestrial
property. The treaty was not ratified, however.

Had Genevas committee done its homework, it would have discovered that
in February 1952, a Berkley science fiction fan club laid claim to a
section of the moon. The following year, a Chilean lawyer, Jenaro
Gajardo Vera, claimed ownership and published that claim in three
issues of the Chilean official journal.

President Richard Nixon even acknowledged the Chilean claim. In May
1969, Nixon sent a telegram to Vera through a U.S. Embassy
representative requesting his authorization for the U.S. astronauts to
land on the satellite that belongs to you.” However, he apparently
didnt bother to get Genevas permission.

Nor was selling lunar land a new idea. In 1952, Robert R. Coles,
former chairman of New Yorks Hayden Planetarium, incorporated to sell
lots on the moon for a buck an acre. Inflation must have been
nonexistent from 1955 to 1966.

More recently, many Internet sites offer a piece of the moon for
unwary buyers. A United Kingdom seller was offering an acre for under
$15 on eBay. The most prominent of moon-selling sites is Dennis Hopes
Lunar Embassy (, which claims to
have found a loophole in the 1967 United Nations treaty. Hope, who
claims to have sold more than 300 million lunar acres since 1980, says
he has legal claim because the treaty didnt forbid individuals or
corporations from owning the moon.

Inflation has taken its toll, however, from the days when Geneva
offered 100 acres for $100. Hopes lunar landscape starts at $29.95 an

So, if you were among those who bought 100 acres from Geneva 36 years
ago, you might want to dig deep into the safe deposit box or desk
drawer, dust off that old piece of paper … and use it to start a
fire in the hearth some moonlit night.


Time, equipment, and costs to repair cratered runways.
BY J.J. O’Sullivan

“Part of a larger study on strategic air base systems which examines
the cost of repairing craters of varying sizes. Several levels of
facilities for repair are considered, together with multiple and
single cratered runways. In addition, the time for operating and
assembling the machinery is discussed.”

Laboratory and Field Investigations of Small Crater Repair
BY Lucy P. Priddy; Jeb S. Tingle; Timothy J. McCaffrey; Ray S.

ABSTRACT: In support of the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, the
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) was tasked
to develop and test innovative techniques, materials, and equipment
for expedient and sustainment repairs of small bomb craters in
airfield pavements. This airfield damage repair (ADR) investigation
consisted of laboratory testing of selected crater fill and capping
materials, as well as full-scale field testing of small crater repairs
to evaluate field mixing methods, installation procedures, and repair
performance. After 3 hr of cure, each crater was trafficked under
controlled traffic conditions to determine the ability of the repairs
to support the gross load of an F-15E aircraft. Results of the traffic
tests identified multiple repair materials that can be used for
expedient and sustainment repairs of concrete airfield pavements. Both
the laboratory and full-scale traffic tests were conducted at the ERDC
in Vicksburg, MS, from February to November 2006. Experimental results
were used to develop ADR criteria for rapidly repairing small craters.

System for rapid repair of damaged airfield runways
Document Type and Number: United States Patent 4404244

ABSTRACT: A membrane of fiberglass-reinforced polyester resin is used
as a traffica cover over a compacted backfilled crater and crushed
stone base to impart strength to the repair and prevent foreign object
damage to aircraft. The membrane cover is usually prefabricated from
several fiberglass matting layers of chopped fiberglass strands
chemically bonded to woven fiberglass roving and impregnated with a
polyester resin; an anchoring system consisting of holes along the
cover perimeter and torque set rock bolts are used in conjunction with
special steel bushings to secure the cover to airfield pavement
surrounding the crater.

Crater repair project no problem for “Can Do!” Seabees in Iraq
FROM All Hands; BY Suzanne Speight  /   Feb, 2005

In true “Can Do!” spirit, Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction
Battalion (NMCB) 23 have made permanent repairs to 31 giant-size
craters at the Al Asad airfield–a military runway critical to
operations in northern Iraq. The airfield, once a military hub
accommodating F/A-18 Hornet fighters, C-130 Hercules and C-5 Galaxy
cargo planes, had been out of service with battle damage for more than
a year when the Seabees moved in.

According to LT Donald Panthen, assistant operations officer, 1st
Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Engineer Group, the Seabees’
performance has been outstanding despite a number of project
difficulties. “The Seabees completed this job ahead of schedule and in
spite of material shortages, contractor delays and insurgent
activity,” Panthen said. When NMCB 23 officially took on the project
in October, work was already behind schedule by more than three weeks,
and additional existing craters had been added to the project.

Permanent crater repairs require extensive measures, such as cutting
and removing the damaged pavement adjacent to the craters, excavating
the soft, filling the hole and compacting with structural fill
material, and then capping the craters with concrete. “It’s comparable
to patching giant potholes, each five feet deep and up to 80 feet
across,” said LT Stephen Fichter, project officer. The crew produced
more than 3,600 cubic yards of concrete for the job, utilizing more
than 6,000 tons of patching material. “Operating in a war zone adds
another layer of difficulty to an already challenging project,”
Fichter said.

According to Fichter, quality sand and gravel are in short supply in
the Al Anbar province, and there are only a few nearby quarries for
obtaining the scarce raw material. “Getting stone and sand from the
quarries is dangerous due to the security situation in that area,” he
said. “We can’t just order up material and have it delivered. Here, we
have to go and get our own stone and sandy.” In addition, an explosive
ordnance disposal team must visit supply sites prior to loading
material to check for the presence of improvised explosive devices and
supply convoys must travel at night with tight security.

In spite of these obstacles, the Desert Bees completed one runway
three weeks ahead of schedule. “From the start, we’ve empowered our
Seabees on the ground to find what works and get the job done,”
Fichter said. The Seabees produced their own formulas for concrete,
considering that the quality of sand and gravel vary widely from
source to source. “It’s like trying to make cookies all taste the
same, even though your ingredients are different in every batch,”
Fichter said. “We keep adjusting our recipe, depending on what kind of
material we have at the time.” The Seabees produced concrete for the
project using only two “crete-mobiles,” a major accomplishment
considering the diminutive mobile concrete mixers are designed for a
much smaller workload.

“This project has not been easy,” Fichter said. “I think our positive
attitude has been a key aspect of this project. We have established
good working relationships with fellow Soldiers and Marines, so when
we need repair parts or additional equipment, they are glad to help
out. Good will goes a long way and is easily built using the diverse
skills found in ordinary Seabees.”

For related news, visit the Commander, 1st Naval Construction Division
Navy NewsStand page at Story by JOC
Suzanne Speight, who is assigned to public affairs with the 1st Marine
Expiditionary Engineer Group, Al Asad, Iraq / COPYRIGHT 2005 U.S.
Navy / Gale Group


The theme of avoidance characterizes the early history of what is now
Craters of the Moon National Monument. The lava fields and formations
of the Great Rift, with their sharp surfaces, heat, and aridity,
discouraged entry and exploration by both native peoples and Euro-
Americans. Similarly, the hostile environment did not appeal to
westering pioneers seeking cheap, arable lands, and valuable minerals.
Encounters with the region were of a transitory nature.

Evidence of human occupation in the proximity of the monument dates to
ten thousand years before present. Yet archaeological sites within the
monument suggest that it was not until thirty-five hundred years ago
that small bands of hunters and gatherers, the Northern Shoshoni and
Bannock, occupied parts of the area. Even then, they did so only
during their annual summer migrations, their passage marked by trails
of polished lava and cairns. Many of the known sites are composed of
stone windbreaks and rock rings–used perhaps for hunting blinds,
religious purposes, or temporary shelters. Artifacts such as tools,
arrowheads, and projectile points are strewn throughout the lava
flows. From this evidence, it is believed that indigenous peoples
entered the lavas to forage and hunt in small groups and stayed only
short periods of time. Restricted to what the volcanic environment
offered, they concentrated mostly in the northwestern section of the
monument where travel was easier and resources more abundant. Until
Euro-American settlement wiped out or drove off most of the wildlife
near the monument, Indians hunted and lived among bison, elk, wolf,
grizzly and black bear, cougar, and bighorn sheep. [1]

Early explorations of the Snake River country by Euro-Americans also
avoided the Craters landscape. Expeditions under John Jacob Astor’s
Pacific Fur Company in 1811, the North West Company the following
decade, and the Hudson’s Bay Company after 1821 penetrated southern
Idaho in search of furs. With its commercial goals, the fur trade
circumvented the arid region that supported few beaver-rich streams.
However, depletion of beaver and an increase of independent American
trappers within the Snake River system expanded the search closer to
the monument’s vicinity in the 1820s and 1830s. In 1823, a Hudson’s
Bay Company fur trader, Thyery (or Antone) Godin, ventured onto the
Big Lost River, which for a time bore his name. Another Bay Company
trapper, Antoine Sylvaille, arrived on the Big Wood River in 1828. [2]

While these efforts netted little in the way of furs, they did provide
the first documentation of the monument’s periphery, as well as the
first visual description of the region. By Washington Irving’s
account, United States Army Captain Benjamin L. E. Bonneville neared
the volcanic district between 1833 and 1834. The military explorer and
fur trade entrepreneur viewed it as a vacant and lifeless place. A
threat to human life and absent the desired economic resources, “the
volcanic plain in question forms an area of about sixty miles in
diameter, where nothing meets the eye but a desolate and awful waste;
where no grass grows nor water runs, and where nothing is to be seen
but lava.” [3]With that, Bonneville cast a lasting, negative
impression of the unnamed monument.

Another lasting influence of the fur expeditions was that they drew
more people closer to the present monument. Segments of the overland
route blazed by the Astorian party of Wilson Price Hunt and Donald
Mackenzie in 1811 became part of the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s.
The fur trading posts of Forts Hall and Boise, permanently established
after 1834, functioned as service centers for emigrants. Missionaries
headed first for Oregon Country and were followed in the 1840s by
thousands of westward-trekking pioneers. They traveled well to the
south of today’s monument along the Snake River, at the southern rim
of the Snake River Plain. Like the fur traders before them, these
early westerners sought treasures in the land that lay beyond Craters
of the Moon–fertile soil in the Willamette Valley or gold in
California. Beginning in the 1850s, though, many overland travelers
opted for an alternate route, afterward called Goodale’s Cutoff, that
sent them to the northern rim of the great lava plain, and brought
them to the landscape of Craters of the Moon. [4]

This secondary trail departed Old Fort Hall, branched northwest from
the river, passed Big Southern Butte, neared Arco by about eight
miles, and from there arched southwest; it skirted the flanks of the
Pioneer Mountains and the northern section of the present Craters of
the Moon before it stretched on to rejoin the main trail at Boise. The
cutoff represented a well established travel path. Indians crossed the
lava fields in the monument’s north end on their way to Camas Prairie,
a valuable food source of Camas roots. Later, mountain men, fur
traders, and finally emigrants exploited the route. John J. Jeffrey,
hoping to profit from a ferry across the Snake River, promoted the
cutoff for emigrant traffic between 1852 and 1854. After that year,
however, the venture failed, and the trail went unused until the era
of the Civil War migration, when Tim Goodale guided his party over it
in 1862. [5]

Goodale, an experienced trapper, trader, and guide of the Far West,
led the emigrants over the cutoff because they wanted a shorter and
safer route to their destinations. By 1862, gold had been discovered
at Salmon River and the Boise River Basin, and the travelers were
eager to reach the new mines as quickly as possible. That year as
well, Indian hostilities diverted emigrants north of the main overland
trail. In August, Shoshoni tribes, antagonistic toward white settlers
infiltrating their homelands, attacked a party of emigrants at what
became known as Massacre Rocks. The group that Goodale guided in 1862
eventually numbered 1,095 people, 795 men and 300 women and children.
Although the Northern Shoshoni were irritated by the wagon train’s
presence, especially as it departed the future monument and entered
into Camas Prairie, the train’s size and Goodale’s leadership saw the
company through to Boise unscathed. Thankful, some of the emigrants
then named the cutoff for their guide. [6]

Even though individuals chose to travel through what is now the
monument, they still perceived it as a place to avoid–a place along
the way to somewhere else. Exposed to the seemingly desolate lava
fields, emigrants endured the harshness and bleakness of the landscape
of Craters of the Moon and pressed on. One year after the creation of
Idaho Territory, Julius Caesar Merrill described what it was like
putting the Craters of the Moon Lava Field behind him and his party in

It was a relief to see the distance widening between us and those
volcanic strata. It was a desolate, dismal scenery. Up or down the
valley as far as the eye could reach or across the mountains and into
the dim distance the same unvarying mass of black rock. Not a shrub,
bird, nor insect seemed to live near it. Great must have been the
relief of the volcano, powerful the emetic, that poured forth such a
mass of “Black Vomit.” [7]

In subsequent years, Goodale’s Cutoff served as a popular emigrant
route through southcentral Idaho. Various modifications and the
construction of a ferry crossing on the Snake River transformed the
trail into a more accessible road. Because railroads arrived late in
the century to this section of Idaho, the cutoff received heavy use by
overland travelers. As emigrant traffic tapered off, it functioned as
a stage route after 1879, ferrying travelers to and from the mining
districts of southcentral Idaho, and points west and east. It also
evolved into a freight route, then into a road for farm families
settling the region, and finally into a section of a modern highway.
Even with all of this activity, the lava landscape remained a
formidable and barren place to those who crossed it. [8]


“The crowded conditions give some indication of growing pressures on
monument resources.”


Robert Limbert’s experience traversing the contorted landscape helped
him to “appreciate its scenic value.” Where others had seen only a
barren waste, he found solace and beauty. Here, he wrote, the “human
voice seems a sacrilege in the amphitheater [sic] of nature such as
these huge craters seem to be.” Visually, he was enamored of the
“immense rolls and folds of fantastically formed lava…colored blue,
black, and brown…the scores of crater rims and walls that start at
your very feet and dot the landscape to the horizon line….”
Exploring this strange landscape took Limbert to some of the “grandest
sights imaginable,” from the heights of the great craters to their
“deep somber depths.” It was awe-inspiring to descend from the scenic
feast of surrounding space and sky to crater bottom, and become
enveloped in a “red walled funnel,” where “one feels little and
insignificant, a fly on the wall of the world.” [25]

The impression was lasting and moving, and in his descriptions he
captured the essence of the area. As he watched the light of sun and
moon dance across the cobalt blue lavas of the Blue Dragon Flow, it
changed from a “twisted, wavy sea” to a “glazed surface” with a
“silvery sheen.” Not simply day and night, but all the “changing
conditions of light and air” make this a “place of color and silence,”
a place, with few exceptions, unequaled in “variety of formation,
color, and scenic effects” in the world. [26]

Limbert’s expression for the lava country’s unique beauty found its
way into the April 10, 1921 Idaho Sunday Statesman, where he stated
that “no more fitting tribute to the volcanic forces which built the
great Snake [R]iver [V]alley could be paid than to make this [region]
into a national park.” [27] True to the promoter that he was, Limbert
asserted that the site would attract thousands of visitors, once
adequate roads were constructed so travelers could reach the Craters
area as they motored to Yellowstone National Park via the Lincoln
Highway. All people, he believed, should have the chance to see “these
wonders of nature for themselves.” [28]

Impassioned about this issue, Limbert called for the state’s public to
pressure Idaho senators to “introduce a bill suitably framed to give…
[Craters] the recognition it deserves.” Not only did the area’s scenic
values drive Limbert’s preservation plea, but also what he saw as the
threat to the district’s archaeological features (Indian cairns and
rock hunting blinds), which could be “torn down and destroyed with
their contents carried off for the personal gratification of an
unthinking few.” [29] It was this perception that led Limbert to
spearhead a movement on both a local and national level to create a
“new national park or monument in many respects the equal and in some
easily the peer of many…now within our boundaries.” [30]

Following his 1920 exploration, Limbert conducted free lectures around
southern Idaho, meeting with civic groups to drum up support for
converting the lava district into a national park unit. Heartened by a
positive response, he decided to attract national attention by guiding
several more trips with scientists and reporters. In June 1921, the
explorer-promoter led his most famous investigation of the Craters
area for the Idaho Statesman. The party consisted of ten men, who were
“equipped to make an exhaustive study of the lava formations, bird and
animal life, and explore the many craters.” The end result would be a
study placed before Congress emphasizing “the possibilities of this
wonderland as a national park.” Included in the group were local
residents, Samuel Paisley and Era Martin; civic leaders, Clarence A.
Bottolfsen and Jo G. Martin; as well as two scientists representing
both the Biological Survey and the Smithsonian Institution, Luther
Goldman and W.E. Crouch. The trip spanned two weeks, during which
Limbert snapped more than 276 still photos, recorded an estimated 1400
feet of motion-picture film, as well as produced maps of the lava
country’s features: ice caves, “bottomless pits,” and craters
previously uncharted. [31]

Upon his return, Limbert announced that the scenery and natural
wonders of the “Moon Valley” were “unexcelled by either the
Yellowstone National Park or the Garden of the Gods.” [32] To ensure
this message reached a wide audience, he published photo essays of the
area in a number of regional and national newspapers and magazines.
His most famous piece appeared the March 1924 National Geographic. His
essay, “Among the Craters of the Moon,” with its photographs and map
detailed the 1921 expedition’s route, though it represented a
composite of his several trips. Originally submitted in the fall of
1921, the article was delayed going to press by the Society, which
questioned Limbert’s findings, and held up publication until his
observations could be confirmed. [33]

Two months after the National Geographic appeared, the monument was
established. Limbert’s role, given the course of events, was
instrumental to this outcome. His explorations and essays–both
written and photographic–exposed a historically and geographically
isolated region to the public at large. [34] More importantly, he
espoused a positive attitude for the lava fields that before had been
largely unknown or actively avoided.

As the delay by the National Geographic suggests, Robert Limbert
needed help to succeed in establishing a national park for the Craters
region. Although evidence of the movement to create the monument
outside Limbert’s efforts is limited, enough information exists to
imply that Limbert himself galvanized the public to action. But at the
same time, it should be noted that his reception was positive, hinting
that a majority of people already shared his feelings on the
uniqueness of the region, or saw its removal from the public domain as
insignificant. [35]

When the account of Limbert’s 1920 expedition appeared in the spring
of 1921, for example, the Idaho Statesman voiced that a movement was
already afoot “to have the lava country designated a national park.”
Stating what reflected, most likely, the stir surrounding Limbert’s
preparation for his 1921 expedition, the paper noted that “Eastern
scientists have expressed great interest in the proposition [to create
a park] and Idaho commercial clubs and women’s organizations are
making individual investigations.” Moreover, the paper reported what
seems to have been a dominant hope for an isolated and young western
state–the establishment of national park. For once that occurred and
the area became accessible, “this spot in Idaho may become as great a
mecca for tourists as Yellowstone Park.” [36]



To build public support for parks in its founding years, the National
Park Service encouraged tourism. By welcoming automobiles, and
developing roads, campgrounds, and hotels, the agency enabled more
Americans to enjoy the nation’s wonders, and visitation soared. The
Service’s leaders, however, never intended to grid the parks with
roads and mar the landscape with subdivisions, but rather to make the
most spectacular sites accessible to tourists and concentrate other
developments in a central location–leaving the majority of park lands
as wilderness. While this approach reflected the Park Service’s
mission to balance visitor use and resource protection, park promotion
attracted larger and larger numbers of tourists pressuring the agency
to increase development. [1]

During the 1930s, the New Deal emergency work relief programs injected
park management with the necessary manpower and appropriations to meet
these growing demands, marking one of the most important phases in
park developments. The next phase, perhaps the most significant,
responded to an even greater crisis. The war years had backlogged
critical maintenance and development projects, and a visitor explosion
in the 1950s had swamped the already inadequate park physical plants.
In the mid-1950s, Mission 66, the Park Service’s ten-year
rehabilitation program, arrived and with over a billion dollars in
appropriations renovated the overwhelmed facilities of the national
parks. The program strove to upgrade all areas, some for the first
time, repairing and constructing thousands of miles of roads,
campgrounds, employee housing, and sanitation systems. Innovations
such as the visitor center incorporated interpretive facilities and
administrative offices, containing in some instances concessionaire
services and auditoriums. Since this period, development programs in
the Park Service have concentrated mostly on maintaining Mission 66
facilities, but as has often been the case, increased visitation and
staffing have outpaced the capacity of existing park developments. [2]



Issues And Highlights
Natural resource management at Craters of the Moon National Monument
constitutes the majority of management concerns. Historically,
protection of the geologic resources has been the primary management
focus because the volcanic formations were the basis for the area’s
creation and are its central theme. Protection of wildlife,
vegetation, water, and air quality have formed a secondary but
nonetheless important management emphasis. In all cases, custodians
and superintendents have pursued policies of mitigation, education,
and enforcement to strike the balance between preservation and use of
the monument’s varied natural resources.

Geologic Resources
Attracting the majority of visitor activity and visitor related
impacts, the lava formations are plagued with the chronic problems of
illegal collection, vandalism, and other forms of human erosion.
Unlike biological resources, the volcanic features are frozen in time.
Where grass or trees can regenerate, only a new eruption can replenish
the lavas. Until then, they will breakdown. While a natural process,
erosion is accelerated by visitor contact. Federal laws and National
Park Service regulations prohibit unauthorized collection and
vandalism, yet both exist. [11]

To the untrained eye, the lavas seem indestructible, when in fact the
opposite is true; they are deceptively fragile–realized all too
starkly by the disappearance of known formations and the degradation
of others. Thus efforts to protect the sensitive terrain have required
vigilance from monument managers. Balancing preservation and use has
led to changes ranging from modifications in the types of acceptable
visitor behavior and activity to rehabilitation of popular features.
Similar to other aspects of Craters of the Moon’s management, the long
term effects of depletion and damage from visitor use were not readily
apparent nor rigorously managed until mid-century when visitation
accelerated and the monument’s administration grew in response to
increasing pressures. Although the majority of damage occurs within
the monument’s developed interior, among the outstanding natural
features, resource problems are not isolated to these sites alone.
Finding a way to protect the geologic resources has meant combating
the perception that the already broken, twisted, and contorted
landscape is not susceptible to alteration, when it is even by the
most incidental human contact.

Impacts to the lava terrain, many of them through benign actions,
predated the establishment of the monument. At the turn of the
century, scientific groups entered the lava flows of Craters of the
Moon and by the early 1920s unrestrained sightseers roamed the
formations by foot, horse, or auto. As promotion of the area
accelerated, so did visitation and souvenir hunting. Lava bombs, tree
molds, squeeze tubes, and loose fragments of aa and pahoehoe lava were
among the volcanic specimens attractive to scientists for research and
to individuals for souvenirs. Commercial interests, to a degree, also
threatened the reserve’s “great scientific and scenic wonders.” Before
the monument was established, at least one entrepreneur had “had sold
several hundred dollars’ worth of curiously formed lava bombs” taken
from “the slopes of the volcanoes.” [12]

Even after the Park Service placed Custodian Samuel Paisley in charge
in 1925, it was evident that fascination with volcanic rocks would
persist. In January, the Arco Advertiser reported what was then and is
now a common reason for impacts to geologic features: “There is the
general desire on the part of visitors to take home specimens of the
different kinds of lava to show friends.” Similarly, universities were
conducting scientific outings at an increasing rate. [13] Perhaps the
most famous rock collector was Park Service Director Horace Albright
himself. Demonstrating the attractive qualities of the monument’s lava
rocks, Albright “tried to carry an armful of `lava bombs’ for half a
mile or so” during his 1924 inspection, “in order to make them
available for photographing.” Sensing his mistake, however, he
concluded: “I finally got them to the car, but resolved that I would
never again gather specimens at Craters of the Moon National
Monument.” [14]

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