For the 22nd time in his Administration, President Obama has improperly leveraged the Antiquities Act of 1906 to lock up millions of acres of the American West.
In a press release touting the designation of Sand to Snow National Monument, Mojave Trails National Monument, and Castle Mountains National Monument - a total of 1.8 million acres - USDA celebrated this Administration’s prowess for these types of designations that have locked off 265 million acres in the last seven years without any formal review, economic analysis, or public comment.
“This president has misused and abused his executive power more than any of his predecessors in an attempt to distract from his true environmental legacy which will be one of mismanagement and undue economic hardship in rural communities,” said Brenda Richards, Public Lands Council President.
As President Obama closes out his final term, a rash of last-minute designations totaling nearly 10 million acres in states like Oregon, Arizona and Utah is expected. Congress must rein this abuse of the Antiquities Act and ensure the American public is engaged whenever the federal government makes sweeping decisions that impact such large areas of land.
“Here we are again discussing the President’s abuse of a law intended to protect objects or artifacts, not large landscapes,” said Tracy Brunner, NCBA President and Kansas cattleman. “When designations like these take place, multiple use and valid existing rights like grazing always lose. If this Administration believes this land is in need of protection, they should do so through the proper democratic channels, not a stroke of the pen that bypasses the American people.”
Richards added, “It’s outrageous that the Administration would openly boast of sidestepping the American public under the guise of protecting these lands when in fact they are eroding the multiple-use doctrine of the federal land management agencies.”