Public Lands, National Monuments, Antiquities Act, and States' Rights

Today President Trump signed an executive order that called for a review of major designations (100,000+ acres) of national monuments in the last 21 years. The impetus for this order appears to mostly be my Utah Congressional delegation, perhaps specifically Senator Orrin Hatch, and what I’d describe as “seething anger” by many Utahns over the Bears Ears National Monument designation by Obama last December. This EO doesn’t actually change the designation of any monument, but instructs the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, to “conduct a review” and “provide an interim report to the President” within 45 days (and a final report in 120 days) which “shall include recommendations for such Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other actions consistent with law”. He’s specifically ordered to review Bears Ears in the interim report and may also include “such other designations as the Secretary determines to be appropriate”.

There are various articles out on the subject:

As you might imagine, Utah Republicans appear to largely be rejoicing, and liberals and environmental groups appear to be fuming mad. Both sides seems to agree that this may be the first step in a process to undo or drastically scale back the designation.

Personally, I’ll be delighted if Bears Ears gets “de-designated”. I think it (along with other designations in recent decades) was a grotesque abuse of executive power at odds with the spirit and intention of the Antiquities Act and the desires of the local populace. The Bears Ears designation turned something like one quarter of San Juan County into a national monument. But what do you think? Was the Bears Ears National Monument designation a proper and healthy exercise of executive power? Are you happy to see large swaths of land declared national monuments? concerned by it? Do you think the opinions of the local populace should be taken into consideration?

I’m generally in favor of conservation, and the cry of “state’s rights!” is generally not very compelling to me in the absence of an actual, fact-based argument.

Can you fill me in on what the opponents of this designation want to see happen with this land? Why is it a problem to make it a monument, aside from the “not invented/authorized here” criticism?

Was this a bad thing to do? Why was it bad?

BLM land you can mine and log pretty easily - making it worth money to the locals. National monuments bring in tourism dollars, but don’t let you typically log, drill or mine.

Follow the money.

Interesting that, at least according to wikipedia, Utah fighting this already cost them an outdoors retailer show - costing the state 50,000 visitors and $45 million in annual spending.

So it’s bad because now locals cannot log, drill, or mine some federal lands?

Really asking, since I don’t know much about this monument.

What else are public lands for other than private profit?

oh, right! :smack: :slight_smile:

It’s not just mining and logging (although that’s certainly a part of it). There are concerns over grazing rights for ranchers, water for the towns down there, a uranium mill that may be shut down, loss of tourism revenue due to the closing of ATV trails, etc.

Basically San Juan County is a particularly impoverished part of Utah, and this monument designation will likely make it even more impoverished.

Just doing some googling, seems like the uranium mine was not impacted (link). The grazing and water issues seem like matters worth considering, but again I know very little about the specifics here.

As far as mining and ATV use, I’m inclined to say, fuck 'em. I generally regard them as blights, not benefits. As a general proposition, those ARE the threats that need protecting against.

Golly, I just can’t fathom why we would want to protect anything. But I can understand why Trump wants to un-protect things. It’s a detailed 2-point plan.

  1. Obama protected something, Trump is going to unprotect it.
  2. $
    It’s the most detailed, studied plan Trump has come up with yet.

And yet they are significant components of the economic well-being of the people living there. It’s easy to say “fuck 'em” when it doesn’t really affect you. When it wipes out the economy in your town, and yourself, or your neighbors are going to be out of work because of it, and your schools aren’t going to have the funding they need to hire enough teachers to educate your children, it’s a bigger deal.

Well that’s just it, the people who actually live and work there are apparently inclined to return the favor. The west is a big place, there are millions of acres already set aside where resource extraction and the like is prohibited. While these are “public lands” the public is no longer part of the decision making process.

i admit i hadn’t heard of this monument before this thread, but i’m basically with Ravenman on this: i would prefer to err on the side of conservation.
but the Obama admin didn’t just pick Bear’s Ears out of a hat and unilaterally make it a monument, someone or some grope lobbied for it.
since you’re from the area; why do you think it was set aside in the first place and why do you think that designation deserves to be reconsidered?
because if the argument come down to atvs and uranium mines versus protected land, you’ve lost me.


eta: i see you and RM have started while i was typing. . .

Do you really believe it was a group of citizens that convinced El Presidente that he should de-monumentalate that area so that they could earn a living, or might it be that some large industrial concerns that would like to strip out any value that area has left might have [del]bribed[/del]had a chat with him? Looking at his entire history, before and after election, I have my doubts as to the former.

Well, the representatives for the people of Utah passed a resolution urging “El Presidente” to undo Bears Ears National Monument.

Bears Ears by itself does not make or break anything, but the only reason for anyone to visit Utah is to see its incredible natural wonders. It’s sort of amazing for the locals to be oblivious to this. One of my favorite trips was a visit to Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, Natural Bridges, and a couple of other places in Utah. Where I’m certainly not going is any place polluted by logging, drilling, mining, or whatever.

A few of the articles you posted contained assertions that the question of protecting Bears Ears was not really in dispute, the only questions were which government should do it and what the precise boundaries should be.

So when you say that it is a pity that mining and ATV usage are examples of things that people think should continue in the area, it doesn’t make sense to me. Those are generally quite harmful activities, which leads to a contradiction: you can’t be in favor of protecting an area, and in favor of activities that are harmful to that area. So were the articles wrong that there is a consensus about protecting the area? That would seem to mean that this is simply a question of, “Is economic development a sufficient reason to damage wilderness?”

It’s probably a little more complicated than that.

A/ delist all national monuments.

B/ all national monuments are sold to the highest bidder to be run for profit.

C/ under the Iron Law of Monopoly the buyers decide in ten years to sell all the national monuments to the premier entertainment and real estate conglomerate: Heritage Trumpland USA.

D/ All national monuments are required to be painted gold.

This is demonstrably false. Shitloads of people come to Utah all winter long for the skiing.

Utah is spectacular, no doubt about it. I’ve been there many, many times and hiked extensively in the backcountry for weeks at a time, explored 2wd and 4wd roads, it is amazing geology, and solitude. But it’s also a huge area, there are millions of acres of public lands and national parks already set aside for these purposes. The notion that any resource extraction should be off limits, logging, mining, or the rest of it, is crazy. There’s plenty of room for all of it, and most importantly that’s clearly what people who live and work in Utah want.