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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The King's Forests Just Aren't Big Enough

The LA Times reports:

 Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she will recommend that President Obama act alone if necessary to create new national monuments and sidestep a gridlocked Congress that has failed to address dozens of public lands bills. 
Jewell said the logjam on Capitol Hill has created a conservation backlog, and she warned that the Obama administration would not "hold its breath forever" waiting for lawmakers to act.

The story indicates that, just in California, the following sites are being considered as national parks or monuments: a 1,255-acre Stornetta Public Lands site on the Mendocino County coast, north of Point Arena; expansion of the boundary of Yosemite National Park; a national monument in the San Gabriel Mountains; adding thousands of acres to Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks and the Mojave National Preserve; designate 248,000 acres as wilderness and create the Sand to Snow National Monument running from the floor of the Coachella Valley to the peak of Mt. San Gorgonio; as well as "protect" additional waterways. This is just one state--imagine what could be in store for other states.

Obama could act through the Antiquities Act. According to the article:
The Antiquities Act gives presidents authority to name new monuments — a power generally residing with Congress. Presidents going back to Theodore Roosevelt have used the act to set aside natural wonders, including the Grand Canyon in 1908, which was later named a national park against the wishes of local officials.

But use of the act in recent years has sparked strong protest. Most notabley was President Clinton's decision to designate the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah in 1996, putting one of the nation's largest coal reserves off limits to mining. 

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