Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reviews of United States National Monuments

As a person, and as an American, I love our park system - local, state, and national.  Along with National Parks, there are National Seashores, National Forests, National Marine Reserve area, and National Monuments.  All areas designated as National property are protected from being sold, from development, from mining, from drilling, from having the bones of the earth removed, defaced, or desecrated.  Many National Monuments contain sites that are sacred to Native Americans, and, at times, multiple tribes and peoples have worked together to produce an agreement regarding the saving of ancient grounds.
    Most areas of land east of the Mississippi River in our country are heavily inhabited and developed and there is very little space left that can be saved and preserved, as it is now, or as it was in the past.  This is not true of the western part of the United States.  The west still has wide open spaces, where the land is not good for intensive farming, where there are deserts and mountains where one cannot produce enough food to feed oneself.  There are many amazing things that can be seen - the geysers of Yellowstone Park, the tremendous height of the Rocky Mountains, ancient Native American rock art and petroglyphs, cave systems, coral reefs, and many other delights for the eye and mind.
    Yesterday, the circus peanut signed an executive order to allow national monument designations to be completely rescinded or to reduce the size of these sites, in order to allow the federal government to open those lands for oil and gas drilling, for mining, and for other types of development.  This order is an effort to reverse environmental protections from three previous Presidents that the current administration claims is hobbling economic growth.
    This executive order will allow 45's appointed Secretary of the Interior, Zinke, to pick and choose where he feels the government can make a profit from the land.  Industry is cheering this order, but conservationists are outraged.
    The Antiquities Act was passed by Congress in 1906 and gives the sitting President the authority to create National Monuments from federal lands in order to protect and save significant natural, cultural, or scientific features.  There is no wording in the Act regarding  rescinding a previous designation.  So far in our history no President has ever rescinded a national monument designation.  (However, in 1915, President Woodrow Wilson did reduce the acreage in the Mount Olympus National Monument, arguing that the United States was in need of the timber.)  Many legal actions by environmental groups are anticipated to fight this executive order.
     In announcing this order, the tangerine tyrant stated that President Obama's use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create national monuments was an "egregious abuse of federal power" that allowed the federal government to "lock up" millions of acres of land and water.  "Today we're putting the states back in charge," he said.  He also added that each state should decide which land is protected and which is open for development.
     Federally owned land is overseen by five agencies - the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Department of Defense.  (The DoD owns 11.4 million acres.)  The United States government owns only 4% of the land east of the Mississippi, but, overall, it owns 27.9% of land in the United States.  The states with the least amount of federal land are Connecticut and Iowa (0.03 %) and Kansas with 0.05 %.  The federal government owns 9.9 % of Virginia.  Out west, the federal government owns 85 % of Nevada, 69 % of Alaska, 57 % of Utah, 52 % of Oregon, 45 % of California, and 35.9 % of Colorado.
    The executive order signed yesterday is aimed specifically at 24 National Monuments created since January of 1996 that are larger than 100,000 acres in size.  The three Presidents who designated these monuments were Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.  Eyes are trained on the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument in Utah that has a large vein of high-grade coal running through it, and the Bears Ears National Monument, also in Utah, for which five Native American tribes worked together to have the plans approved.  Bears Ears is a site that has drawn  intense interest from oil companies who wish to drill there.
  Here is a listing of the twenty four National Monuments targeted by 45 and his plunder-monkey minions:
1.     Grand Staircase - Escalante   in Utah
2.     Grand Canyon - Parashant    in Arizona
3.     Grand Sequoia   in California
4.     Vermillion Cliffs    in Arizona
5.     Handford Reach     in Washington
6.     Canyons of the Ancients     in Colorado
7.     Ironwood Forest     in Arizona
8.     Sonoran Desert     in Arizona
9.     Upper Missouri River Breaks     in Montana
10.   Carrizo Plain    in California
11.   Papahanaumokuakea Marine    in Pacific Ocean
12.   Marianas Trench Marine     in Pacific Ocean
13.   Pacific Remote Islands Marine     in Pacific Ocean
14.   Rose Atoll Marine      in American Samoa
15.   Rio Grande del Norte      in New Mexico
16.   Organ Mountains - Desert Peaks     in New Mexico
17.   Basin and Range     in Nevada
18.   Berryessa Snow Mountain     in California
19.   Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine   in Atlantic Ocean
20.   Mojave Trail   in California
21.   Bears Ears     in Colorado
22.   Gold Butte     in Nevada
23.   Sand to Snow     in California
24.   San Gabriel Mountains     in Cakifornia

No comments: