National Monuments at Risk!

The Vandal-in-Chief is about to authorize his lackey at the Department of the Interior to review “any national monument created since Jan. 1, 1996, that spans at least 100,000 acres ‘to make sure the people have a voice’ in which lands receive the highest level of federal protection.”

What that sounds like to me is “let the ranchers and the miners and the oilmen override the results of all the previous public comment periods which were held before these areas were designated National Monuments.”

From what I can tell many National Monuments have been created at the request of people on the ground who want to protect it from misuse by commercial or criminal interests. The Antiquities Act of 1906 was deemed necessary after two decades of looting, desecration, and destruction of Native American sites in the Southwest such as Chaco Canyon and Cliff Palace. Teddy Roosevelt wasted no time using it. In the law’s first 2 1/2 years he named the following places as monuments:

  • Devils Tower, Wyoming, September 24, 1906
  • El Morro, New Mexico, December 8, 1906
  • Montezuma Castle, Arizona, December 8, 1906
  • Petrified Forest, Arizona, December 8, 1906
  • Lassen Peak, California, May 6, 1907
  • Cinder Cone, California, May 6, 1907
  • Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, March 11, 1907
  • Gila Cliff Dwellings, New Mexico, November 16, 1907
  • Tonto Cliff Dwellings, Arizona, December 19, 1907
  • Muir Woods, California, January 9, 1908
  • Grand Canyon, Arizona, January 11, 1908 (made a national park by President Woodrow Wilson in 1917)
  • Pinnacles, California, January 16, 1908
  • Jewel Cave, South Dakota, February 7, 1908
  • Natural Bridges, Utah, April 16, 1908
  • Lewis & Clark Cavern, Montana, May 11, 1908
  • Tumacacori Mission, Arizona, September 15, 1908
  • Wheeler, Colorado, December 7, 1908
  • Mount Olympus, Washington, March 2, 1909

And he left a whole bunch of angry state legislators in his wake, I’m sure. The instigators of the current fight are all Utah legislators who are furious that President Obama listened to the Native American tribes who wanted Bear’s Ears so designated rather than let the state have that land for its use. Considering that all the land in Bear’s Ears was already federal land, their argument that the Federal Government was denying the state use of the land seems foolish.

No question Utah has a great many monuments and landmarks. A lot of people think that’s good for tourism. A few others think cattlemen and miners should get first crack at the land. What it really comes down to is who controls the state’s land, and with so much of Utah federally owned the amount of tax revenue land use generates is much smaller than it could be if the Feds would just give it to the state and let Utah decide who gets rich and pays state taxes on it.