WASHINGTON (July 10, 2015) – The abuse of power continues as President Obama designates three more national monuments under the Antiques Act. The Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, Waco Mammoth in Texas, and Basin and Range in Nevada together add over one-million acres to federal jurisdiction. With these designations, President Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 19 national monuments, putting more than 260 million total acres of land and water under restrictive management during his presidency.
“Expansive and sweeping designations in Nevada and California today, provide just the latest examples of the continued abuse of power by President Obama,” said Brenda Richards, Public Lands Council president and Idaho rancher. “The President is charging forward with expansive designations in an attempt to leave behind some type of legacy after his term ends, but what he will be known for is the mismanagement of natural resources, economic hardship in rural communities, and putting farmers and ranchers out of business. He is replacing the people who do the best job of managing our natural resources with Washington D.C. bureaucrats implementing one-size-fits-all management practices to land across the country.”
Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, the President has power to declare monument designations, which comes with added layers of bureaucracy and restrictive management provisions in the name of environmental protections. In similar fashion to President Obama, Richards added, President Clinton designated more national monuments during his presidency than any other presidents at the time; decisions that have wreaked havoc on the local economies by limiting productive multiple-uses.
Billy Flournoy, President of the California Cattlemen’s Association added that despite the claims of the Administration, grazing is at great risk with the 331,000 acres encompassed in the Berryessa Snow Mountain designation.
“Even where the Administration has historically assured the ranching community that grazing will not be curtailed as a result of national monument designation, just as they are now, we have nevertheless seen ranchers pushed out and grazing significantly decrease,” Flournoy said. “In California, perhaps the most egregious and illustrative example was with the management of the Carrizo Plain National Monument, where grazing was once a thriving industry.”
As Rep. Amodei (R-Nev.) has dubbed the Nevada designation, the “Hairy Berry National Monument,” is reportedly a deal struck between Senator Harry Reid and President Obama, without any consult from the local level.
“Decisions regarding land management must come from the ground up,” said JJ Goicoechea, Nevada Cattlemen’s Association past-president. “To claim the designation is to protect the artwork ‘City’, an area approximately the size of the National Mall in D.C., by putting 700,000 acres under designation is absurd. When you disregard both the legislative process and the input from local entities, it is a clear indication that the best interest of the land is not a factor. This heavy-handed, I-know-best mentality is threatening our livelihood and our ability to produce the food and fiber for our country.”
The livestock industry will continue to call on Congress to end this abuse of power and wholesale reshaping of the West by presidential fiat through modernization of the Antiquities Act. Congress should immediately pass legislation reiterating the original intent of this Act so special interest environmental groups will not continue getting their way with a friendly administration in locking up the West without public input or approval by Congress.