With new monuments in Nevada, Utah, Obama adds to his environmental legacy

Discussion in 'Lake Powell Issues' started by Waterbaby, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. Waterbaby

    Waterbaby Administrator Staff Member


    With new monuments in Nevada, Utah, Obama adds to his environmental legacy

    By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis December 28 at 5:00 PM
    Aerial view of Gravel Canyon and Jacobs Chair in the west part of Bears Ears National Monument. (Robert Fillmore)
    President Obama on Wednesday created new national monuments in a sacred tribal site in southeastern Utah and in a swath of Nevada desert, after years of political fights over the fate of the areas.

    The designations further cement Obama’s environmental legacy as one of the most consequential — and contentious — in presidential history. He has invoked his executive power to create national monuments 29 times during his tenure, establishing or expanding protections for more than 553 million acres of federal lands and waters.

    Environmental groups have praised the conservation efforts, but critics say they amount to a federal land grab. Some worry that the new designations could fuel another armed protest by antigovernment forces inspired by the Cliven Bundy family, such as the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon this year.

    Obama’s newest designations include two sprawling Western landscapes that are under threat, yet also where local residents are deeply divided on how the land should be used.

    [Even from jail, the Bundys’ defiance still echoes in the Nevada desert]

    [​IMG] Jose Witt, Southern Nevada director of Friends of Nevada Wilderness, points out petroglyphs while leading a hike this fall in Gold Butte. The area is now one of the newest national monuments. (Ronda Churchill/for The Washington Post)
    In Utah, where the federal government owns about two-thirds of the land, the designation of another 1.35 million acres to create the Bears Ears National Monument undoubtedly will prove polarizing.

    For the first time, Native American tribes will offer management input for a national monument through an inter-tribal commission. Five tribes that often have been at odds — the Hopi, Navajo, Uintah and Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Pueblo of Zuni — will together have responsibility for protecting an area that contains well-preserved remnants of ancestral Pueblo sites dating back more than 3,500 years.

    “We have always looked to Bears Ears as a place of refuge, as a place where we can gather herbs and medicinal plants, and a place of prayer and sacredness,” Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation, said in a call with reporters Wednesday. “These places — the rocks, the wind, the land — they are living, breathing things that deserve timely and lasting protection.”

    While many environmentalists and archaeologists supported the monument, most Utah politicians opposed the site’s unilateral protection. Instead, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and a fellow Utah Republican, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, devoted three years to drafting a land-use bill that would have protected a large portion of the site but would have allowed some development. The bill stalled in the House.

    In a statement Wednesday, Chaffetz said he was “outraged” by the designation, saying Obama’s decision “politicizes a long-simmering conflict.”

    “The midnight move is a slap in the face to the people of Utah, attempting to silence the voices of those who will bear the heavy burden it imposes,” he said, vowing to work with the Trump administration to try to repeal the decision. “It does not have the support of the Governor, a single member of the state’s congressional delegation, nor any local elected officials or state legislators who represent the area.”

    Meanwhile, the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada has been a site of contention for more than 15 years. As Las Vegas sought to expand, local, state and federal managers agreed to protect species such as the imperiled desert tortoise in Gold Butte. But they did little for either the animals or the actual sagebrush steppe and Mojave Desert in the approximately 300,000-acre area marked by fossilized sand dunes and panels of petroglyphs that tower over the landscape.

    Although all the legal grazing permits in the area northeast of Las Vegas were sold more than a decade ago as part of a deal with environmental groups and county officials, a single family — headed by cattle rancher Cliven Bundy — refused to recognize federal officials’ authority over the government land. The Bundys engaged in an armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management officials in 2014; several still await trial for the confrontation. Their followers occupied the Malheur refuge in January.

  2. Waterbaby

    Waterbaby Administrator Staff Member

    This from June is his reasoning for Bears Ears:


    A major Native American site is being looted. Will Obama risk armed confrontation to save it?

    The Fallen Roof granaries, constructed more than 800 years ago, still contain a dried corn cob. Maize accounted for roughly 80 percent of the ancestral Pueblo diet.

    RIM OF CEDAR MESA, Utah — For centuries, humans have used the red sandstone canyons here as a way to mark their existence.

    First came archaic hunter-gatherers who worked in Glen Canyon Linear, a crude geometrical style dating back more than 3,500 years. Then about 2,000 years later, early ancestral Pueblo farmers of the Basketmaker period used more subtle lines to produce a man in headdress. A little more than 700 years ago came their descendants, who used the same kind of hard river stone to make drawings of bighorn sheep and a flute player in the ancient rock.

    Now, President Obama is weighing whether and how he can leave his own permanent imprint on history by designating about 2 million acres of land, known as the Bears Ears, as a national monument.

    And despite the uniformly acknowledged historical significance of the area, some people regard the conservation efforts by the White House as classic federal overreach. In the current-era conflict between Washington and rural Westerners, the idea of a Bears Ears national monument has produced warnings of a possible armed insurrection.

    In a state where the federal government owns 65 percent of the land, many conservatives already resent existing restrictions because they bar development that could generate additional revenue. Out-of-state militias came to San Juan County two years ago, when Commissioner Phil Lyman helped lead an all-terrain-vehicle protest ride through a canyon the Bureau of Land Management had closed to motorized traffic in 2007. Lyman is appealing the 10-day jail sentence he received in connection with the protest, and he argues that his case shows how BLM officials place the priorities of environmentalists over those of local residents.

    “I would hope that my fellow Utahans would not use violence, but there are some deeply held positions that cannot just be ignored,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, the veteran Republican lawmaker, said in an interview.

    Cedar Mesa is one of the best preserved and most archeologically rich sites in the United States. The dry climate and rock overhangs have protected important artifacts for millennia, and there are tens of thousands of ancient objects and structures preserved, including ones in which the original wood beams in cliff dwellings remain intact. In a granary where the Pueblo people kept maize, a single dried cob lies on a dusty floor.

    But some lawmakers have suggested that unilateral action by the president, under the 1906 Antiquities Act, could provoke the same sort of resistance that led to the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon earlier this year.

    “There is a lot of conflict that has escalated into being on the precipice of violence that is unnecessary and unwarranted,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz
    (R-Utah), who opposes the designation.

    Obama has approached the designation of national monuments as a way to bolster the country’s defenses against climate change and as a way to make the national narrative more inclusive, in addition to his obligation to safeguard the country’s national treasures.

    [How Obama helped Harry Reid leave an indelible mark in Nevada’s desert]

    Looting incidents
    In the case of Bears Ears, there is no question that the area is imperiled by the kind of looting and pillaging that first inspired the Antiquities Act, as well as more modern threats, such as ATVs and motorbikes tearing through the desert terrain.

    There have been six confirmed looting incidents in the past six months, and at least two dozen over the past five years. In one, a vandal used a rock saw to remove a petroglyph; in one this year someone dug up a pristine ceremonial chamber, or kiva, that had never been professionally excavated. Although the BLM has allocated $400,000 over two years to stabilize 10 archeological sites and trained about 20 people to serve as volunteer “site stewards,” it employs just two law enforcement officers to patrol 1.8 million acres.

    Without help from Washington, preservationists worry that the looting and destruction will continue. Word of the region’s treasures has spread from academics and archaeologists to “pot hunters” and other looters, said Don Simonis, the BLM’s archeologist for the area. “For years we’ve been reluctant to talk about it, but if we don’t talk about it, how else can we convince the powers that be that we need protection here, and get the resources we need to protect it?”

    But in the Bears Ears region, named for the twin buttes that define the landscape, and surrounding San Juan County there are competing claims to the land and its history. The area has been home over the centuries to Native American tribes, Mormon settlers who reshaped the land in the late 1800s and the energy prospectors, ranchers and thrill-seekers drawn to it today.

    All lay claim to pieces of the region’s past and all are determined to have a voice in its future.

    On May 19, Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R) signed a resolution, passed in a special session, specifically opposing a national monument. But even that measure stipulated that the legislature and governor were in favor of “protection and conservation of the Bears Ears area” if done in “a constitutionally sound, locally driven legislative approach.”

    Chaffetz and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) have spent more than three years crafting a lands bill that affects seven counties in eastern Utah, spanning 18 million acres. The process involved extensive deliberations with a wide range of interests—more than 1,200 meetings and more than 120 different groups, according to staffers, as one of Bishop’s aides racked up more than 65,000 miles on his Nissan Versa traveling from one meeting to another.

    Forces of opposition
    The lawmakers may introduce a bill this month, and earlier drafts set aside four times as much land for conservation as for development. But those proposals have drawn sharp criticism from environmentalists and tribal leaders, in part because they give state and local officials greater say over managing federal lands and redefine what activities can take place in protected areas.

    Scott Groene, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, has dubbed the plan the “Plundered Lands Initiative.” He said it “gives away vast amounts of public land, sacrifices landscapes to energy development, rolls back existing protection and fails to protect the Bears Ears.”

    And a coalition of tribal groups — including representatives from the Hopi, Navajo, Uintah and Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Pueblo of Zuni — abandoned what had been fitful negotiations with Utah Republicans in December, saying they were not given a proper voice in shaping the deal. Leaders of the tribes, some of which had warred against each other in the past, said they have found a common cause because of their spiritual and historical connection to the area.

    “We put aside the sense of who came here first and who came here last,” said Carleton Bowekaty, a Pueblo of Zuni councilman. “We’re not confined by reservation lines. We’re not confined by state lines.”

    A nonprofit Navajo group started pressing for federal protection six years ago, but tribal leaders say the state’s current members of Congress haven’t given them as much say as the late Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), who started the talks. Kenneth Maryboy, who at the time served as one of San Juan County’s three commissioners, attended a listening session with the two lawmakers and members of the community where one rancher openly scoffed at the idea of recognizing tribal claims.

  3. Bart

    Bart Well-Known Member

    With this astonishing and egregious abuse of executive power, Obama has shown that far-left special interest groups matter more to him than the people who have lived on and cared for Utah’s lands for generations.

    Utah Senator Orrin Hatch
  4. Endurance

    Endurance Well-Known Member

    I notice that two administrations, specifically those of of Taft and Eisenhower, had negative numbers that would indicate that they reduced the size of national monuments. Does that mean that an administration following Obama could reduce or eliminate this action?
    Waterbaby likes this.
  5. Bill Sampson

    Bill Sampson Well-Known Member

    I know when Clinton made the Escalante area a national monument that no money was allotted for maintenance of the area. The Hole in The Rock Road could desperately use some maintenance. The locals were hoping it would be designated a national park so there would be funds available.
  6. Bart

    Bart Well-Known Member

    Bundy Ranch responds to Gold Butte National Monument Designation.

    We, the Bundy family, would like to say to President Obama that we are saddened, but not surprised, by the your decision to make our ranch and home a national monument. If any of this were really about protecting the land, you would come here, work with the local people who love this land, those who have a vested interest in this land, and take the time to learn what this land really needs.

    This is about control, pure and simple. You don’t love this land, you have never visited here, but you love being in control of this land. The problems we have had with federal land management have never been about cows, tortoises, or fees. It has always been about the constitutional limits on the federal government’s authority.

    While you enjoy a vacation in Hawaii we are here caring for this land and resisting federal overreach. Shame on you for undoing with your pen the good work we have done with our sweat for generations. We call on Attorney General Adam Laxalt to fight this to the fullest extent of the law.

  7. Waterbaby

    Waterbaby Administrator Staff Member

    I think we all know why he did this to the land the Bundy Ranch sits on. Harry Reid wanted that land - Obama named Reid's chief of staff as the head of the BLM to make it happen and they even redrew BLM boundry lines in the area to force out the ranchers - many generation long ranchers, the Bundy family said they were not leaving and stood up to them..... then they got involved it the debacle in Oregon [where another Arizona rancher joined in and was murdered] which was another land grab attempt and totally destroyed that ranching family [the one the Bundy's as well as the AZ rancher were going to give help during the standoff].. As we all know the Federal Government locked up the Bundy's for being there and basically tried to throw the keys away - they went to trial and were vindicated - so this is payback to the Bundy's for opposing the outgoing administration as much as it is anything else [in Nevada]

    There is a map someone leaked from Interior a year or so ago showing literally a line of land from Arizona, New Mexico through Utah and Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Oregon all the way up through Canada into Alaska to cut off former grazing lands for ranchers. One only needs to look at the ranches they went after the last two years to see this map was being followed - in Colorado people like Steyer have been buying up land and choking people off their own land through lack of access as they surround them on all sides to force the sale of many ranches.. what they can't force sold they have been trying to take away like they just did with Bears Ears in Utah.

    Now I know on the other thread I posted the new President can reverse this and was told by another poster it cannot be undone..... so there is conflicting information on this. Obama did this by Executive Order. New Gingrich said just a week ago when he was speaker of the house they passed a law and it is still in effect that any executive orders in the last days of any outgoing administration within 60-days of January 20th can be undone by the incoming president w/out having to go to congress to undo the EO..... whether this applies to an EO using the Antiquities act I am not certain, but and EO is an EO so I would think it certainly should--- so pressure must be applied to Chaffettez and Hatch and Lee, etc., to take this up with President Trump asap and get it reversed. What was done in the Arctic needs to be reversed, too.
  8. Waterbaby

    Waterbaby Administrator Staff Member

    Bill that is just it - they create these national parks and monuments, charge entry fees and then the money goes back to DC and the general fund and all thse parks/monuments are not properly maintained. We see it at Lake Powell, we see it at the Grand Canyon and more..... Powell had marina's much better managed back in the "old" days when they were privately operated - case in point was the last hold out at Halls Crossing - many of us made the longer drive to go to Halls vs Wahweap because the boats were better maintained, the owners were more visitor friendly and it was an all-around better experience.. Fact is things seldom, if ever, runs better when the government runs it [VA anyone]......
    Bill Sampson likes this.
  9. Waterbaby

    Waterbaby Administrator Staff Member

    Chaffettez on FOX right now saying two important things: 1) the Antiquities act specifically states to preserve "small areas" - as in specific sites, now a million acres of land willy nilly. And 2) He and others in Utah have tried multiple times for two years to get a meeting with Obama over this and they were refused. Instead they received a phone call the other day from Jewell stating in 15 minutes this is going to be a done deal..... no further heads-up or meetings.. wham bam, done. He also said they ARE going to drag everyone up to Capital Hill and hold hearings on this, they are not going to let it go and they are going to lobby Trump to reverse it.

    Oh and the so-called Indian tribes applauding this - most do not even reside in Utah [shades of the standoff that just killed the Dakota pipeline a couple of weeks ago - they were not Dakota tribes].......
    capt.catfish and Bill Sampson like this.
  10. Waterbaby

    Waterbaby Administrator Staff Member

    Another thing. If designating a national monument would stop defacing artifacts in the region - why do we have so much vandalism and graffiti at Lake Powell, and below Lake Powell all the way down to the Grand Canyon. We already know the people who will do this don't care if it is a national park or monument.
    Bill Sampson likes this.
  11. Dale

    Dale Well-Known Member

    As I understand it, President Trump can not reverse the designation, that would take an act of Congress, but he can reduce the amount of land confiscated to the area that actually needs protection!
    Bill Sampson likes this.
  12. Leardriver

    Leardriver Well-Known Member

    Our new president has a majority in congress, so he could reverse this obscene land grab immediately if it mattered to him. We'll see if it makes it onto the menu, with all of the other shenanigans that he has to undo.
  13. Alfred E

    Alfred E Member

    I'm curious how this constitutes a "land grab" when the Federal government already owned this land?

    At the risk of sounding extremist, I pay federal taxes and am proud to be a citizen of the United States.

    This Bundy thug has grazed illegally on BLM (United States) land for decades and has refused to pay his minimal grazing fees, owing a million dollars or more. He has also made racist remarks about our President. Bundy's minions blocked traffic on an Interstate Highway. In addition, Bundy and his gang members have threatened Federal officers with firearms and have seiged Federal facilities with automatic weapons. His cases have been tried in courts of law and he has lost. Let's call a spade a spade, Bundy is a tax evading, freeloading, domestic terrorist with seemingly no respect for the laws of our great nation. He and his terrorist organization give a bad name to over 10,000 ranchers who legally and respectfully graze on public property, lands which belong to all Americans,

    I'm happy that our elected President sought to further preserve and protect these special places for present and future generations of all Americans and people of the world.
    KBJ likes this.
  14. Leardriver

    Leardriver Well-Known Member

    Designating an area as a monument takes public land away from the public, regulates it excessively in my opinion, and charges you to visit it. Since I don't require the government's help to enjoy the outdoors, I wish they wouldn't call this land something different.

    Been to Yellowstone lately? That magnificent place has been ruined by signs. Every where you look, there is a regulatory sign that is completely unnecessary, where the government reminds you that they are in charge, and your enjoyment has to fit their terms.
    Joy likes this.
  15. Alfred E

    Alfred E Member

    Thank you for the reasonable reply. I haven't been to Yellowstone since the end of August 2016.

    There are many aspects of the government I do not like. I'd rather not pay $100 a year to have a pass for my self and boat on Lake Powell. But I pay it to enjoy one of the most magnificent places on the planet. I do not storm Federal buildings with automatic weapons because I think the Feds have overreached their stay on Lake Powell National Recreation Area.
  16. Dale

    Dale Well-Known Member

    Hi Alfred, glad to meet another Powell lover. The problem with Obama using the obsolete 1906 Antiquities Act to close off 1/4of the state of Utah to all development, is the Antiquities act requires closing the SMALLEST area possible to protect an artifact! Obama's illegal act was opposed by almost 100% of the people living there as their livelihood is being destroyed, as well as the entire Utah Congressional Delegation , and the local leaders. Luckily we only have 16 more days of illegal actions from Obama.
    Waterbaby and JBinNM like this.
  17. Alfred E

    Alfred E Member

    Thanks Dale!

    From the few pictures I've seen of the new monument in Nevada it looks spectacular. I understand this new monument designation will impact the lives of a few dozen persons. I am sorry and feel for those few dozen people whose lives might be changed by this land going from public land to public land. I do not feel sorry for those people whose lives will be changed because they purposely grazed illegally on public lands at their own profit while not paying their (heavily subsidized) rent for decades before storming Federal offices with automatic rifles after pointing weapons at our law enforcement officers.

    I've been in the red rock canyons near Valley of Fire State Park a couple of times in the last 6 years and look forward to exploring more of this area in the future. It "sucks" that I might have to pay $10 to go to a place that might have been free a few weeks ago, but I'm willing to pay a bit to enjoy this wild place. I'd rather not pay the Arizona Game and Fish Department another $58 (or whatever it is)for a hunting and fishing license for the next year, but I am going to do it because I feel as a citizen of this country it is my obligation.
  18. Bart

    Bart Well-Known Member

    With one bill, Republicans fast track a plan to undo Obama regulations.

    The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday giving Congress the power to kill dozens of recently enacted rules in one fell swoop, as Republicans charged ahead on their campaign to strip down federal regulations.

    It was the second time the Republican-dominated chamber took up legislation blocking "midnight rules," those rolled out at the close of a president's term.

    On its second day back in session, the House passed the bill on a vote of 238 to 184. The Senate is expected to soon consider companion legislation, which could face a harder time because it would need eight votes from Democrats.

    Under a law known as the Congressional Review Act, Congress has the right to review regulations for a certain period of time after they are issued. That means any federal regulation approved since May could be voided by the Republican-led Congress once President-elect Donald Trump moves into the White House and can sign off on their disapproval.

    It takes only a simple majority of both chambers to reverse a rule, giving Senate Democrats little power to block a vote with a filibuster.

    Joy likes this.
  19. Lake Bum

    Lake Bum Well-Known Member

    The theory that a plot of land being designated a Monument is only going from public land, to public land is demonstrating your lack of history, Alfred E. I have a group, of several thousand people that are opposing a "proposed" monument surrounding the Grand Canyon. I have personally met with Congressmen, Senators, and ALL of the surrounding mayors. It is overwhelmingly opposed!

    The reason it is referred to a "land grab" by many people, is it IS just that. The proposed area surrounding the Grand Canyon is 1.7 million acres. The potential of it being completely closed to ALL multi use access is there, if designated a monument. That includes, hiking, biking, camping, woodcutting, fishing, hunting, ranching, and basically ANY other activity that we enjoy as taxpayers using OUR public forests how we deem fit.

    I do not have current numbers available, but the 2015 budget is pretty crazy for Arizona. Statewide, the maintanence backlog on our Parks/Monuments budget is negative $512 million. $326 million of that ALONE is for the Grand Canyon. And they think they can manage an additional 1.7 million acres and help "protect" it from evil taxpayers? Give me a break! The Bears Ears monument, is a terrible thing for locals. It is of virtually zero benefit being "protected" as a monument. I have worked closely with many people on that one as well. The only support for it, has come from Washington, or Envirornmental groups that know nothing about it personally.
    JBinNM and Joy like this.
  20. Alfred E

    Alfred E Member

    Thanks for your input Lake Bum.
    While I'm certainly no expert like some on this forum, the research I've done suggests that new national monuments which have traditionally been managed by multiple use agencies such as the BLM and USFS, most all historical uses of the area will be allowed to continue. So in a place like the Bears Ears, sportsman will still be able to hunt and fish, locals can still cut wood and native people can still gather herbs for medicine. Same as with the proposed monument around the Grand Canyon. It's my understanding that new mining claims will not be allowed.

    It seems highly probable the local communities around the Bears Ears (Monticello, Bluff, etc) will see an increase in tourism revenue over the coming decades.

    The maintenance backlog on our national parks is obscene. I support efforts to give more money to maintain facilities in these areas especially since I spend considerable dollars every year entering some of these areas. I imagine with all of the wars we are fighting in other country's and our "need" to build up our nuclear arsenal that the money that might go to preserving and maintaining our own public lands will not be funded.