Another Land Grab. Another Unlawful Act. What will be done about it? NOTHING!!!
President Barack Obama couldn’t help but give in to his authoritarian tendencies, snapping his fingers Thursday and declaring that over 1.5 millions of acres of land in Utah and Nevada now belong to the federal government.
The Washington Post reports that Obama designated two new areas as national monuments: 1.35 million acres in Utah as Bears Ears National Monument and 300,000 acres in Nevada as Gold Butte National Monument through the 1906 Antiquities Act.
“I am designating two new national monuments in the desert landscapes of southeastern Utah and southern Nevada to protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archaeological sites and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes,” Obama said in a statement. “Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes.”
Congressional Utah Republicans were not happy with Obama’s move.
“Mr. President, I want you to know that we are saddened by this abuse of the Antiquities Act. It is sad that this entire process has been done in secrecy and in shadows,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. “And Mr. President, I want you to know as Utahns, we will use every tool at our disposal to do the right thing — whether it be legislative action, judicial action, even executive action — because what we have seen so far is a poor procedure. It’s a poor policy and it reflects poorly on your legacy. As Utahns, we will fight to right this wrong.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) also voiced his displeasure.
“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,” Chaffetz said. “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.”
The land grab now puts Obama’s total amount acres designated as national monuments at over 554 million, the most of any president. It also another example of an Obama land decree without input from the states and localities
The administration had been plotting this land grab for quite some time, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) warned about it in August, telling The Glenn Beck Program that the locals are against the move because activities like fishing, hiking and hunting “would all be in jeopardy if the federal government says who goes where and when.”
“I held a field hearing there last week,” Lee said at the time. “We had a capacity crowd. We filled up the entire high school auditorium. We had 700 people in an overflow room. We had 1200 people show up in San Juan County to express their views on this, and I invited people of all viewpoints. I invited Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, either to come in person or to send a representative. I invited people from the Bureau of Land Management, from the Forest Service. Not one of them showed up. And not one person who was there spoke in support of the national monument.”
Lee added that Obama’s reasoning was that the land needed to be protected as a monument “because it’s beautiful.”
“What could possibly go wrong with all this land being managed from Washington, D.C.?” Lee said.
The answer, of course, is a lot, as the Bureau of Land Management has a history of abusing power with the land they own, which is especially troubling given that most of the land in the western part of the country is now under the control of the federal government.