Leaked Interior Memo to Establish 17 National Monuments in the West by Presidential Decree Creates Uproar
A memo to Interior Secretary Salazar, which was leaked to the media and members of Congress, entitled “Prospective Conservation Designation: National Monument Designations under the Antiquities Act”, generated angry letters from members of the Utah Congressional delegation and others. At a Senate hearing, Secretary Salazar had to disavow any White House initiative in the memo, which identifies 17 areas the Obama Administration is purportedly considering for designation as National Monuments. The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to proclaim “national monuments” on federal lands that contain “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.”
Both public and private lands were included in the memo for inclusion in the BLM National Landscape Conservation System, which was established legislatively by Congress last year. Recreation is not a purpose for areas within the NLCS unless they are designated by act of Congress or under an existing law that provides that status. Much of the land would be “withdrawn from the public domain” to prevent mining and oil and gas exploration.
Areas on the list include:
• San Rafael Swell, UT
• Montana’s Northern Prairie, MT
• Lesser Prairie Chicken Preserve, NM
• Berryessa Snow Mountain, CA
• Heart of Great Basin, NV
• Otero Mesa, NM
• Northwest Sonoran Desert, AZ
• Owyhee Desert, OR/NV
• Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, CA (expansion)
• Vermillion Basin, CO
• Bodie Hills, CA
• The Modac Plateau, CA
• Cedar Mesa region, UT
• San Juan Islands, WA
Listed as possible conservation areas:
• Bristol Bay Region, AK
• Teshekpuk Lake, AK
• Red Desert, WY
States Closing State Parks and Campgrounds under the Pressure of Budget Cuts
According to the National Governor’s Association, in 2011 the total deficits of 45 states are expected to reach $53.6 billion. Deficits will rise to $61.6 billion in 2012. As a result many states are looking at new sources of tax revenue and some are closing state parks. Tourists are a prime target for new tax increases at the state and local level.
Arizona is closing 13 state parks after budget cuts have reduced the state parks budget by two-thirds since 2008. Pennsylvania is considering oil and gas leases in state forests, which directs funds to state parks under a 1955 law, to make up for $10 million in budget cuts. California proposed closing 200 state parks last year until an outcry led to reduced hours and deferral of vehicle purchases. Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed using royalties from offshore oil and gas production to establish a fund for California’s park system. Others object to that approach and are proposing an $18 vehicle surcharge instead. In Idaho, Governor Otter proposed eliminating $4.5 million from state park funding. To make up for the shortfall, he proposed cutting 25 positions, adding a registration fee for RV’s, and using the state cash balance. He also proposes moving the State Park division to another agency.
Colorado Senate Committee to Vote or Right to Float Bill on Monday
Despite opposition from the Farm Bureau, water conservation districts and some private boaters, the bill to establish rights of navigation for commercial outfitters on Colorado rivers is close to passing a key committee vote. Opposition has mounted since passage of the legislation in the Colorado House, but supporters are very close to overturning a blitz of negative news about the intent of the bill. House Bill 1188, the 2010 River Outfitters Viability Act, is expected to be voted on in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. The vote will be close. The bill establishes rights of commercial navigation for commercial river outfitters on the state’s navigable waters similar to the public trust doctrine which protects the rights of commercial navigation on rivers in most states.
Check out the Executive Director’s Trends in Outfitting and Active Travel Presentation to the Southern Oregon Visitors Association
The Power Point presentation to the Southern Oregon Visitor Association revealing trends in outfitting and the travel industry can be found at http://americaoutdoors.org/pdf/OregonPresentation.pdf The file is just over 5 megabytes. It takes a minute to download on DSL.