Two national monuments in or near Kern County are among those eligible for review under President Donald Trump’s Wednesday executive order to determine which, if any, ought to be resized, rescinded or modified.
Among the monuments threatened by the executive order are the Bears Ears National Monument, which Obama designated as a National Monument just before ending his second term as President. Congress adopted this opinion into law in 1976 with the Federal Land Policy Management Act.
While Zinke acknowledged criticism that the act has been over-used by past presidents, he insisted he’d approach the topic with an open mind.
Still, under current law, the president has the right to establish a monument, but the legislation does not expressly authorize presidents to abolish monuments designated by other presidents. A central pillar of Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy, this 1906 law gives USA presidents the authority to designate monuments – that is, to set aside and safeguard public lands with outstanding natural, cultural, historical, and scientific value to the people of this country.
“We can see that particularly well here in the Coachella Valley because of the assets that the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains national monument in the new Sand to Snow provide to the residents”, she said. Most national monuments have been established with support, although a few have been contested, such as the Grand Teton National Park by Roosevelt, lands in Alaska by Jimmy Carter and the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii by George W. Bush. Trump called the protection efforts “a massive federal land grab” by previous administrations. But he said the Antiquities Act is due for a review, claiming that in recent years it has been too restrictive – placing public lands off-limits to grazing, fishing, mining and outdoor recreation. Experts have said it is uncertain whether a president can undo a monument created by executive order.
Zinke said the order, which Trump will sign during a visit to his department, will cover several dozen monuments across the country designated since 1996 that total 100,000 acres or more, from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah to the Bears Ears in southeastern Utah.
Ahead of the order’s signing, Bennet pointed out the bipartisan local support for Colorado’s national monuments.
Trump argues that some national monument designations may “create barriers to achieving energy independence”.
Dale said that reducing these monuments or changing them “would have a chilling effect on tribal federal relations when it comes to protecting landscapes”.
The Navajo Nation said lands around Bears Ears hold important historical and cultural artifacts for tribes in the area.
Zinke did not say which other national monuments the administration was specifically targeting, but did promise to decide on the status of Bears Ears in the next 45 days. But he added that he believed “some jobs probably have been created by recreational opportunities”. Orrin Hatch, and Rep. Rob Bishop – none of whom have been shy about expressing their contempt for national monuments and their desire to sell off public lands.
Gardner’s office issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying, “In Colorado we respect and value public lands”. “You can love them as much, but not more than I do”.