October 22, 2017

Trump Asked to Rescind Monument Designations Harmful to Economy, Private Property

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Letter from Free-Market Coalition Urges Comprehensive Overhaul of Antiquities Act

“Dramatic Break” Sought to Combat “Abuses That Have Plagued the Program for Decades”


Washington, DC 
– 
Over three dozen free-market organizations, trade associations, businesses, former federal officials and current lawmakers have signed a letter to President Donald Trump from the National Center for Public Policy Research seeking comprehensive reform of the Antiquities Act and a rollback of national monument designations that threaten economic development and private property rights.  The letter asks the Trump Administration to “deal more forcibly with the abuses that have plagued the program for decades” and “restor[e] integrity and transparency to a process that for too long has been lacking in both.”

“In keeping with President Trump’s campaign pledge to undo the harm massive national monument designations have inflicted on rural areas in the West and Maine, as well as fishing communities along the Northeast coast, the White House needs to take bold action,” said National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D.   “Just trimming around the edges, as Secretary Zinke has proposed, won’t do.”

Responding to an executive order issued by President Trump in April, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent a draft review of national monument designations to the White House in late August.  While the draft report allegedly seeks to curtail the overreach of the Antiquities Act in designating monuments, and suggests scaling back some recent designations, it apparently does not advocate for completely rescinding any monument designations.

The 37 signatories of the National Center’s letter include leaders of prominent free-market environmental groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Mountain States Legal Foundation and Citizens for a Constructive Tomorrow.  It is signed by former Interior Department officials: G. Ray Arnett, assistant secretary of fish and wildlife and parks during the Reagan Administration, and George Rasley, the former assistant director of the National Park Service during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.  Current Idaho State Representative Judy Boyle and former California State Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth have signed the letter, as well as trade associations and businesses representing agriculture, logging and other interests.

The letter points out that many national monument designations are unconstitutional.  Even though wilderness areas require congressional authorization, the letter notes that “[m]any of today’s national monuments are de facto wilderness areas where strict land- or sea-use restrictions are in place.”  The letter adds: “In what is a complete distortion of the Antiquities Act’s original intent, monument designations – whether on land or at sea – frequently involve thousands of square miles that are permanently off-limits to almost all economic activity.”

To remedy the problem, the National Center’s letter advises: “With this history of abuse in mind, we strongly urge the Trump Administration to make a dramatic break with the past and begin to undo the injustices perpetrated in the name of designating national monuments… Federal law has also been circumvented by the executive branch in designating national monuments.  It is time for this unconstitutional practice to end.”

In particular, the letter recommends fully rescinding the national monument designations for the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments in Utah, the Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument in Maine and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of New England. [emboldening added]

“President Trump directed Secretary Zinke to review the antiquated Antiquities Act because he recognizes it is terribly flawed.  Radical pressure groups have worked with their allies in government to use it to prevent the American people from accessing natural resources found on already well-protected public lands owned, managed and regulated by the federal government,” said National Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith.   “The Antiquities Act is used to lock up clean coal deposits, shut down well-regulated fisheries, prevent ranchers from grazing their cattle, close access and recreation opportunities and even take private property.  Our coalition asks the Trump Administration to recognize and end these inherent problems by rescinding unnecessary and harmful designations while returning to environmental policy that embraces multiple-use goals.” 

Legislation to overhaul the Antiquities Act was passed out of the National Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives last week.  This bill would allow a president to reduce the size of existing national monuments while placing more restrictions on the ability to create new ones. 

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Bishop’s Bill, Not Yet Visible to Public, on Antiquities Act

Congressman Rob Bishop has introduced a bill, H.R. 3990, that, we are told, is intended to curb the authority of the sitting president to declare national monuments in a willy-nilly fashion. Will it? I don’t know. The bill has been introduced but the public has yet to be able to see any of the wording of the bill.

Below are press releases and statements made by others about the CAP Act.

Subcommittee Chairmen Respond to Antiquities Act Reform Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 10, 2017 –

Tomorrow, the Committee will markup H.R. 3990, the “National Monument Creation and Protection Act” or “CAP Act.” Introduced by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), the bill protects archeological resources while ensuring public transparency and accountability in the executive’s use of the Antiquities Act.

“The Constitution gives to Congress alone the jurisdiction over public lands. While the executive should be able to move swiftly to protect small archeological sites from imminent threat of looting or desecration, the decision over whether to set aside vast portions of land in perpetuity should only be made after the lengthy debate, public input and accountability that are the unique attributes of the legislative branch,” Subcommittee on Federal Lands Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said. 

“Our government works best when it works with the people it serves to accomplish objectives for the common good. For too long, our leaders have not adhered to these principles. The ‘National Monument Creation and Protection Act’ seeks to protect the public’s interests from executive overreach through collaboration with local stakeholders, comprehensive review of monument designations and congressional direction on any future presidential monument reductions. I thank Chairman Bishop for his leadership on this issue and look forward to passage of this important legislation,” Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) stated.

“When Teddy Roosevelt created the Antiquities Act, his intent was to set aside unique areas of land, not to cutoff millions of acres for the federal government to control that produces no revenue or benefit – all while hurting local governments. Through the years, the abuse of this power has snowballed to a point where President Obama designated more acreage during his Presidency than all other Presidents combined. This process unfairly eliminates local input altogether and severely limits the public’s access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities as well as reasonable resource development on their public lands. It is important that the decision to designate or expand national monuments is returned to Congress, where the local citizens and communities can have a say,” Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Chairman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) said.

“This legislation secures a future for locally supported national monuments, checked executive authority, and empowered local governments. The original intent of the Act is upheld and strengthened with measures that bring us into the twenty-first century. I firmly believe this will provide the accountability we need when it comes to protecting our lands,” Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) stated.

“Regardless of political affiliation, presidents on either side of the aisle shouldn’t be able to create massive new national monuments by executive fiat without local public input. It is, after all, the people living near these national monuments that are most affected by their creation. Our nation’s public resources are best managed when the people that use those lands are intimately involved in the process. Chairman Bishop’s ‘National Monument Creation and Protection Act’ protects private property rights and empowers local stakeholders while also including important clarifying definitions that should have been included in the original law. I am grateful for his strong leadership on this issue and am proud to be a cosponsor,” Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Chairman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said.

Bishop Statement on Antiquities Act Reform Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 10, 2017 –

On Monday, Chairman Bishop announced the introduction and markup of the H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act (CAP Act). He released the following statement

“The 1906 Antiquities Act was originally intended as an executive tool to protect historical and archeological artifacts and structures under threat. Regrettably, this worthy goal has been manipulated for ulterior political purposes. Today the Act is too often used as an excuse for presidents to unilaterally lock up vast tracts of public land without any mechanism for people to provide input or voice concerns. This is wrong.  

“This legislation provides for accountability in the Act’s uses. It modernizes the law to restore its intent, allowing for the protection of actual antiquities without disenfranchisement of local voices and perspectives. It standardizes and limits the president’s power to reshape monuments.

“If my colleagues are serious about their calls for accountability under this Act – no matter which party controls the White House – they will support this bill.”

Committee Passes Legislation to Require Transparency, Public Input in Antiquities Act

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2017 –

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 3990, the “National Monument Creation and Protection Act” or the “CAP Act.” Introduced by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), the bill protects archeological resources while ensuring public transparency and accountability in the executive’s use of the Antiquities Act.

“Congress never intended to give one individual the power to unilaterally seize enormous swathes of our nation’s public lands… Our problem isn’t President Obama or President Trump. It’s the underlying law – a statute that provides authority to dictate national monument decisions in secrecy and without public input. The only path to the accountability we all seek – no matter which party controls the White House – is to amend the Act itself,” Bishop stated.

“Under this new, tiered framework, no longer would we have to blindly trust the judgement or fear the whims of any president. The bill ensures a reasonable degree of consultation with local stakeholders and an open public process would be required by law. It strengthens the president’s authority to protect actual antiquities without the threat of disenfranchising people.

“Ultimately, if enacted, it will strengthen the original intent of the law while also providing much needed accountability.”   

Click here to view Chairman Bishop’s full opening statement.
Click here to view full markup action.
Click here for more information on H.R. 3990.  

 

 

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LePage Testimony: Monument Designation “Blatant(ly) Disregard” For Opposition

*Editor’s Note* – Below is a press release from the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources involving testimony toward considerations to amend the process of a president’s executive authority to designate lands as National Monuments. This PR is followed by Maine’s Governor, Paul LePage’s, testimony before the Committee and that of Lucas St. Clair, a representative of Elliotsville Plantation, donors of the land designated by President Obama as a new National Monument – Katahdin Woods and Waters.

Panel Outlines Devastating Social and Economic Consequences of Antiquities Designations
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 2, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands heard testimony on the consequences of Executive Branch overreach of the Antiquities Act. The panel discussed national monuments designated without significant local input or support or that included excessively large or restricted areas of land.

Director of the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office and former head of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Kathleen Clarke discussed the devastating economic consequences for Utah communities after President Clinton designated 1.7 million acres in Utah as the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in 1996.

Families that have lived for generations in affected communities find their families torn apart due to lack of employment opportunities for the next generation. Populations are declining. In the twenty years since the creation of the Grand Staircase, school enrollment in Escalante has gone from 150 to 57 students,” Clarke said.

The monument included roughly 176,000 acres of Utah School and Institutional Trust Land Administration (SITLA) lands, which generate revenues for the state’s K-12 public education system. According to the Utah Geological Survey, the value of resources on school trust lands dropped by $8 billion immediately after the monument designation.

President Obama’s December 2016 Bears Ears National Monument designation similarly locked up 109,000 acres of SITLA land in southern Utah. “What impact will this have for SITLA as they try to grow their fund to benefit more schoolchildren in the state,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) asked Clarke.

This will “diminish opportunity,” Clarke responded, adding that it threatens Utah’s entire K-12 public education system.

Knox Marshall, Vice President of the Resources Division at Murphy Company, testified that President Obama’s January 2017 expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southwestern Oregon and California has “devastated the social fabric of our rural communities and crippled county finances.

Douglas County in Oregon, for example, has recently closed its entire public library system because timber sale revenues that previously funded those libraries and a robust set of other public services have largely disappeared,” Marshall added.

Maine Governor Paul LePage outlined current and anticipated adverse impacts resulting from the August 2016 Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument designation by President Obama, including economic losses to the forestry industry and public access barriers such as the loss of connectivity for ATV trails in the region.

Not long after President Obama designated the Monument, Maine residents started to feel the negative effects of having the federal government as their new master,” LePage stated. 

These designations were often imposed in spite of local opposition, without consultation with Congress, or the state or local government’s effected, and without regard for the economic damage these designations have had on surrounding communities,” Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said.

After reading letters and resolutions from local tribes in Utah opposing the Bears Ears designation Chairman Bishop stated, “I hope that those listening today will remember these voices, the ones that have been excluded from this conversation and the ones that President Obama ignored when he designated Bears Ears National Monument.”

Click here to view full witness testimony.

testimony_lepage
testimony_stclair
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Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act

*Editor’s Note* – Below is President Trumps Executive Order (EO) designed to REVIEW, and nothing more, the hows and whys of land designations as National Monuments in the U.S. since 1996. In the following statements made by various political criminals (because they all are), the emotional clap-trap, designed specifically to continue the anger, hatred and fury of brainwashed members of the fake political left and the fake political right. 

On the one side, the lying right is trying to make people think all those monument designations are going to be lifted and the BS slogan of “Make America Great Again” will be in full force while nothing happens except the strategically used rhetoric to fan flames and garner support while ensuring the left continues to hate the right, bringing things ever closer to violent protest or all out civil war. The fake left is of no exception in this incitement of anger and hatred. As is typical, the fake left convinces its blind followers that the world is going to come to an end because some people want to question the need for more and more parks and national monuments.

It will never be learned that the fake left and the fake right, along with their fake president and fake cabinet, have no interest in looking out for what is best for you and I. They never have and never will. The will make you think they are because they are the masters of deceit. Trump and Congress do not decide what will be and what will not be. They are but puppets, controlled by the real powers of the world. Trust me, any and all national monuments are not created with you and I and our future interests in mind.

In short, everything that I have posted here is a bunch of horseshit and should be seen as such. The president and his staff of clever liars are hard at work pretending they are caring for the people and fulfilling campaign promises. They choose their words carefully and then present an EO that does nothing except create bureaucratic garbage. To date, all of Trump’s EOs are nothing but false rhetoric to drive hate.

EO follows:

 

Presidential Executive Order:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in recognition of the importance of the Nation’s wealth of natural resources to American workers and the American economy, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  Designations of national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906, recently recodified at sections 320301 to 320303 of title 54, United States Code (the “Antiquities Act” or “Act”), have a substantial impact on the management of Federal lands and the use and enjoyment of neighboring lands.  Such designations are a means of stewarding America’s natural resources, protecting America’s natural beauty, and preserving America’s historic places.  Monument designations that result from a lack of public outreach and proper coordination with State, tribal, and local officials and other relevant stakeholders may also create barriers to achieving energy independence, restrict public access to and use of Federal lands, burden State, tribal, and local governments, and otherwise curtail economic growth.  Designations should be made in accordance with the requirements and original objectives of the Act and appropriately balance the protection of landmarks, structures, and objects against the appropriate use of Federal lands and the effects on surrounding lands and communities.

Sec. 2.  Review of National Monument Designations.  (a)  The Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) shall conduct a review of all Presidential designations or expansions of designations under the Antiquities Act made since January 1, 1996, where the designation covers more than 100,000 acres, where the designation after expansion covers more than 100,000 acres, or where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders, to determine whether each designation or expansion conforms to the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.  In making those determinations, the Secretary shall consider:

(i)    the requirements and original objectives of the Act, including the Act’s requirement that reservations of land not exceed “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected”;

(ii)   whether designated lands are appropriately classified under the Act as “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, [or] other objects of historic or scientific interest”;

(iii)  the effects of a designation on the available uses of designated Federal lands, including consideration of the multiple-use policy of section 102(a)(7) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1701(a)(7)), as well as the effects on the available uses of Federal lands beyond the monument boundaries;

(iv)   the effects of a designation on the use and enjoyment of non-Federal lands within or beyond monument boundaries;

(v)    concerns of State, tribal, and local governments affected by a designation, including the economic development and fiscal condition of affected States, tribes, and localities;

(vi)   the availability of Federal resources to properly manage designated areas; and

(vii)  such other factors as the Secretary deems appropriate.

(b)  In conducting the review described in subsection (a) of this section, the Secretary shall consult and coordinate with, as appropriate, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the heads of any other executive departments or agencies concerned with areas designated under the Act.

(c)  In conducting the review described in subsection (a) of this section, the Secretary shall, as appropriate, consult and coordinate with the Governors of States affected by monument designations or other relevant officials of affected State, tribal, and local governments.

(d)  Within 45 days of the date of this order, the Secretary shall provide an interim report to the President, through the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, summarizing the findings of the review described in subsection (a) of this section with respect to Proclamation 9558 of December 28, 2016 (Establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument), and such other designations as the Secretary determines to be appropriate for inclusion in the interim report.  For those designations, the interim report shall include recommendations for such Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other actions consistent with law as the Secretary may consider appropriate to carry out the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.

(e)  Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Secretary shall provide a final report to the President, through the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, summarizing the findings of the review described in subsection (a) of this section.  The final report shall include recommendations for such Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other actions consistent with law as the Secretary may consider appropriate to carry out the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.

Sec. 3.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

 

DONALD J. TRUMP

 

THE WHITE HOUSE,
April 26, 2017.

Bishop Statement on Antiquities Act Executive Order

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2017

House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement in reaction to President Trump’s announcement on national monument designations.

“Today’s action sends the powerful message that communities will no longer take a back seat to out-of-state special interest groups. I’m pleased to see President Trump recognize long-standing abuses of the Antiquities Act. It was created with noble intent and for limited purposes, but has been hijacked to set aside increasingly large and restricted areas of land without public input.

“I applaud the Trump administration’s clear commitment to do what past administrations refused to do, actually talk to real people who live in the area. This EO is not the end of the story, we will work the Trump administration and our communities to get this right.”

Murkowski Commends Executive Order on National Monuments

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today joined President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for the signing ceremony of an executive order directing the Department of the Interior to conduct a review of national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act since 1996.

Secretary Zinke will review onshore and marine monument designations over 100,000 acres in size, and provide recommendations to the president for changes to the scope and size of those monuments within the next 120 days.

“I strongly support President Trump’s order to review the largest national monuments designated over the past two decades,” Murkowski said. “During the past administration, we saw the Antiquities Act result in sweeping designations that frequently ignored local opposition. This review is a good step forward in our efforts to reform the monument designation process to ensure the concerns of those who stand to be impacted are heard and respected.”

The Obama administration designated a total of 554 million acres—an area five times the size of California, and more than the previous 18 presidents combined—as national and marine monuments. The scale and extent of those designations sharply contrast with the explicit wording of the Antiquities Act, which requires the reservation of “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

Murkowski is a leading congressional advocate for Antiquities Act reform. Earlier this year, she and 27 Republican colleagues introduced S. 33, the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act. The bill would facilitate greater local input and require state approval before national monuments can be designated on federal lands and waters.

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

WATCH: Cantwell Defends The Protected Status Of National Monuments

President’s Executive Order Threatens San Juan Island and Hanford Reach

Download broadcast-quality video of Sen. Cantwell’s floor statement here.
Watch Sen. Cantwell’s floor statement on YouTube here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today defended the Antiquities Act and the protected status of National Monuments across the country.

Senator Cantwell took to the Senate floor to oppose the President’s short-sighted attempt to illegally roll back the National Monument status for some our country’s most treasured public lands and national monuments, protected to preserve them for public recreation and enjoyment.

“The shortsighted move is a pretext to attack the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah,” Senator Cantwell said. “Sacred to five tribes, Bears Ears is a breath-taking sight for all Americans who come to experience what is the unbelievable unique beauty of the West.”

In Utah alone, outdoor recreation is responsible for $12 billion in consumer spending each year: more than twice the value of oil and gas produced in the state ($5 billion).

Just today, the Outdoor Industry Association released a new report on the economic contributions of the recreation economy. Nationally, the recreation industry currently creates $887 billion in consumer spending every year. That’s up more than $200 billion (from $646 billion) the last time this study was conducted, a few years ago.

In addition, outdoor recreation industry is responsible for 7.6 million jobs in this country today. That’s growth of 1.5 million jobs since the last time this study was conducted.

Sen. Cantwell explained that President Trump’s Executive Order calls into question more than just Bears Ears National Monument. “Reviewing any designation in the last 20 years, threatening the question of the San Juan Island or the Hanford Reach National Monument and the creation of other sites around the United States and threatening our economies. Time and time again, the Trump administration is pushing for policies that are harmful to our recreation economy, a disaster for our pristine places, and setting a terrible precedent for future conservation efforts.”

In Washington, the outdoor recreation economy generated $22.5 billion in consumer spending and $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue.

Watch the video of Sen. Cantwell’s floor statement here.

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Utah and Maine Want Trump to Rescind Monuments

*Editor’s Note* – In a recent article I was reading in one of the Maine newspapers about the new national monument, Katahdin Woods and Waters, one of the comments after the article was one of ignorance, as are many. The person leaving the comment said that there is no guarantee of access with private land but there is with Federal land. I would strongly suggest this person expend a little effort and do some historic research into all the lands that the Federal Government has seriously limited access and use after they took control.

“PORTLAND, Maine — Republican leaders in Maine and Utah are asking President Donald Trump to step into uncharted territory and rescind national monument designations made by his predecessor.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 doesn’t give the president power to undo a designation, and no president has ever taken such a step. But Trump isn’t like other presidents.

Former President Barack Obama used his power under the act to permanently preserve more land and water using national monument designations than any other president. The land is generally off limits to timber harvesting, mining and pipelines, and commercial development.”<<<Read More>>>

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Obama’s Unilateral Maine Action Proves: Time to Repeal Antiquities Act of 1906

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Antiquities Act Allows President to Designate Federal Lands Without Congressional or Local Approval

Move Comes After White House Designates Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine Against Maine’s Wishes

Move Had Political Impact, and Was Supported by Environmental Left

Washington, D.C.  Two land rights experts with the National Center for Public Policy Research are asking Congress to repeal a 110-year-old law under which President Obama unilaterally created a “Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument” in Maine this week without the involvement of Congress or the approval of Maine.

The experts say the President’s action had a hidden political agenda, and argue that requiring Congressional approval for future such decisions will help remove the politics from the decisionmaking, and allow for greater input from affected communities.

“President Obama has created an economic dead zone in the North Maine Woods,” said Bonner Cohen, Ph.D., senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. “This is not an unintended consequence of the monument designation; this is exactly what Obama and the Greens want. By destroying the timber industry and other pillars of what’s left of Northern Maine’s rural economy, people seeking jobs will have no choice but to pack up and flock to urban areas to look for work. This will shift the political balance further to the advantage of the left, as the population of cities grows and that of rural areas sinks.”

“With the mere ‘stroke of a pen’ earlier this week, President Barack Obama unilaterally used an antiquated federal law to designate 87,563 acres (137 square miles) of north central Maine’s forests and small lakes as the latest national monument, the ‘Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument,'” said Robert J. Smith, also a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. “This designation turns these private lands into lands of the U.S. Department of Interior and places them under the management restrictions and regulations of the National Park Service, continuing the government’s voracious acquisition of private lands and expanding the ever-growing amount of government land ownership.”

“But arguably,” Smith continued, “the most pernicious aspect of this expansion of the federal land estate is the means in which it was accomplished. When the Antiquities Act of 1906 was passed, much of the United States and almost all of the land west of the Mississippi was thinly-populated wildlands. It was nearly impossible to police those vast expanses and prevent the raiding and theft of items from ancient Indian archeological sites and sites with significant fossil deposits or petrified wood. The purpose of the Antiquities Act was to give these areas some special protection by designating the smallest area necessary surrounding them as special units of the federal estate — national monuments. But over the years, and especially in recent decades, presidents from both parties have vied with each other as to who could lock up the largest swath of land in a near-wilderness category to prevent the use of its natural resources, and this has been accomplished in a manner completely antithetical to America’s most basic constitutional principles. With the unilateral stroke of a pen the president can designate any amount of the federal estate as a national monument, circumventing the U.S. Congress and the state, counties and communities where the monument is, and disenfranchising the people of the area.”

“In this case, there is very strong opposition to the monument designation. Maine Governor LePage has been a very outspoken opponent of the monument. Likewise, the state legislature has voted opposition to the designation, and the people of this part of Maine in all the small communities adjacent to the new monument have opposed its creation. Furthermore, the working people of rural Maine fully understand the nature and purpose of national monument creations — which is to prevent multi-use of the lands and to halt use of the area’s natural resources, making it a quasi-national park. And they also understand that national monument designation is the entry-drug for national parks. They know that over time the regulations and restrictions applied to the monument will become ever stricter and more onerous and that eventually the monument will be turned into a national park. Already the yards and lawns of nearby towns like Millinocket have sprouted a sea of yellow and green No Park signs. But alas the federal hegemony has already arrived. The day after the designation National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis had already sent NPS employees into Millinocket and a NPS office is due to be opened shortly in Patten, a small community even closer to the monument,” Smith continued.

“This is an especially egregious example of the radical Greens’ and Washington’s ongoing effort at ‘rural cleansing’ — locking up multiple-use lands into lands that can only be used for little more than hiking and backpacking. This will prove to be a cancer in the North Maine Woods. The vast forestlands covering much of northern Maine have been a unique and highly-successful example of private conservation. Some three million acres of productive, working, privately-owned forests have been managed as the North Maine Woods Association, which provides opportunities for the public to enjoy those same woods for a multitude of recreational purposes such as hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking, birding, and nature study — all for a small fee, which is used to provide campgrounds, fire rings, canoe launch areas, garbage disposal, and many other services. The area and its multiple uses for the public are a prime example of the compatibility of natural resource use, public recreation, and habitat and wildlife protection that often occurs on private lands, but which is almost always prohibited on government lands.”

“The radical Greens have lusted after acquisition of the North Maine Woods for decades, without success. But now they have finally succeeded in gaining a foothold on the edge of the vast forests and, like a cancer, will slowly begin to eat away at this magnificent and highly-successful example of private conservation. Before long the NPS will begin to complain about current activities within the new monument as well as activities adjacent to the monument.”

“Hunting will be banned as a threat to public safety and as being incompatible with the purpose of the NPS. Likewise, snowmobiling will eventually be phased out as a noisy destruction of the park experience and the solitude supposedly sought by visitors as well as a violation of the park’s ‘soundshed.’ And slowly the federal government will expand these regulations and controls used as a buffer zone to ever wider circles around the existing monument, making the existence of the ongoing forest products industry ever more difficult and problematic.”

“It is now far past time for the Congress to repeal an antiquated law that has long been unnecessary and is now used to lock up the American land and prevent the use of its natural resources as well as its use by the majority of people and families,” Smith concluded.

Bonner R. Cohen is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, the New York Post and dozens of other publications. Dr. Cohen has testified before U.S. Senate and House committees and has spoken at conferences in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Bangladesh. Dr. Cohen is the author of two books, The Green Wave: Environmentalism and its Consequences (Washington: Capital Research Center, 2006) and Marshall, Mao und Chiang: Die amerikanischen Vermittlungsbemuehungen im chinesischen Buergerkrieg (Marshall, Mao and Chiang: The American Mediations Effort in the Chinese Civil War) (Munich: Tuduv Verlag, 1984). Dr. Cohen received his B.A. from the University of Georgia and his Ph.D., summa cum laude, from the University of Munich.

R.J. Smith is a senior fellow in environmental policy at The National Center for Public Policy Research, a position he has held since mid-2005. Once president of a local Audubon Society chapter, Mr. Smith has studied environmental policy for nearly forty years and coined the term “free market environmentalism.” Mr. Smith has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of the Interior, a consultant to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, and as a special assistant at the EPA. He has also served as director of environmental studies at the Cato Institute and currently serves as an adjunct analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. A popular speaker, Mr. Smith has lectured throughout the United States. He has also lectured abroad, including in Mexico, New Zealand, France, Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom, among other countries.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.

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Congressional Research Service: National Monuments and the Antiquities Act

Not just in Maine, but other places around the nation, it is felt by some that the authority given to a sitting president to designate lands “quickly” to “protect them” has been abused. For readers interested, perhaps a reading of this report will help to gain some understanding of what National Monument designation was and is intended to do. I took the liberty to highlight, in the below Summary, some of the prerequisite considerations a president should consider before acting. Please follow this link to read the entire report. – 15 pages. Also, you can read a copy of the Antiquities Act of 1906, including the most recent amendments by following the link.

Summary:

The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to create national monuments on federal lands that contain historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest. The President is to reserve “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” The act was designed to protect federal lands and resources quickly, and Presidents have proclaimed about 130 monuments. Congress has modified many of these proclamations and has abolished some monuments. Congress also has created monuments under its own authority.

Presidential establishment of monuments sometimes has been contentious—for example, President Franklin Roosevelt’s creation of the Jackson Hole National Monument in Wyoming (1943); President Carter’s massive Alaskan withdrawals (1978); and President Clinton’s establishment of 19 monuments and enlargement of three others (1996-2001). The Obama Administration’s consideration of areas for possible monument designation has renewed controversy over the Antiquities Act.

Issues have included the size of the areas and types of resources protected; the effects of monument designation on land uses; the level and types of threats to the areas; the inclusion of nonfederal lands within monument boundaries; the act’s limited process compared with the public participation and environmental review aspects of other laws; and the agency managing the monument.

Opponents have sought to revoke or limit the President’s authority to proclaim monuments. Congress is currently considering proposals to preclude the President from unilaterally creating monuments in particular states, and to impose environmental studies and public input procedures, among other changes. Monument supporters favor the act in its present form, asserting that the public and the courts have upheld monument designations and that many past designations that initially were controversial have come to be supported. They contend that the President needs continued authority to promptly protect valuable resources on federal lands that may be threatened.

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