Presidents have aggressively used the Antiquities Act to designate hundreds of thousands of acres of land across the western United States as National Monuments throughout the years. These designations often serve the purpose of restricting livestock grazing and other activities, which have been a historic part of country’s “multiple-use” tradition for public lands — contributing to both healthy landscapes and rural economies, according to the bill's supporters.
“Decisions about monument designations are too important to be made behind closed doors,” said Steve Foglesong, N.C.B.A. president. “States, ranchers and local stakeholders are all impacted by these designations, and they deserve the right to provide input throughout the process.”
H.R. 5580 would allow the President to designate only “the smallest area essential to ensure the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” It would also establish procedures for the designation of monuments, including a public comment period; public hearings; and a report to Congress outlining the designation’s impact on the local economy, national energy security, and other uses associated with the land.
All comments and analyses would be posted on the White House Web site. In order to take effect, proposed designations would require Congressional approval within two years; unapproved monuments could not be followed by repeat proposals.
"Grazing is not only a right of our nation's ranchers, it is also one of the multiple uses of federal lands that has made these areas so vibrant and beautiful,” said Skye Krebs, P.L.C. president. “Rep. Nunes' legislation will help guard the economic resource our ranchers depend on, and will help protect the natural resource by promoting the continued stewardship of our nation's rangelands."
N.C.B.A. and P.L.C. are also supporting a Resolution of Inquiry (H.Res.1406) by House Natural Resource Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings and National Parks, Forest and Public Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Rob Bishop to direct the Administration to turn over to Congress the missing pages and related documents of an “internal memo” detailing plans to potentially designate 13 million acres of new National Monuments in 11 western states.
Despite requests from members of Congress and others, the Administration has failed to disclose the majority of documents related to this initiative, according to the organizations. H.Res.1406 — approved last week with favorable recommendation by the full committee — is the second Resolution of Inquiry offered by Reps. Hastings and Bishop. A motion to favorably report the first resolution, H.Res.1254, was voted down by the committee majority last month.