THE EFFORT TO add 250,000 acres of desolate, virtually unknown California grassland to a U.N. list of "world heritage" sites has come to naught -- and thank goodness. The last thing California needs is to surrender precious real estate to the United Nations for blue-helmeted troop maneuvers or as the seat of some future world government.
True, putting the Carrizo Plain National Monument on the UNESCO World Heritage List would have had no effect on U.S. sovereignty. It would have done nothing to subject this gloriously empty and unspoiled space to any laws, rules, edicts or regulations promulgated by any person or entity outside the United States. But it's the United Nations! Next thing you know, they'll want to grab the redwoods.
Actually, Redwood National Park is already on the list. So are Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall -- all without raising the U.N. flag or imposing international stewardship.
The list, as it turns out, is just a list, naming sites that are intrinsic to the splendor of nature and the greatness of the human spirit. Being included on the list raises public consciousness, which may boost tourism, which brings in money to local economies.