Bush the Conservationist

Get this: after President Bush creates three national monuments in the Pacific today, he will have set aside more square miles of ocean for protection than any other political leader in history. The three new swaths of protected waters, containing some of the world's most diverse populations of coral, fish, and geological formations, will add 195,000 square miles to the nearly 140,000 he set aside in 2006. The designation bans seafloor mining, most commercial fishing, and limits recreational fishing. Environmental groups were disappointed by some concessions made to commercial fishers and the shrinking of one of the monuments. But they were generally pleased with the actions from a president no one would describe as a tree hugger. "We're getting less than we wanted, but that's OK," said Agnes McPhetres, vice chairwoman of a group called Friends of the Monument.