By: Taylor Dilts
In the wake of the recent standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and rancher Cliven Bundy of Nevada, President Obama has set aside 500,000 acres of New Mexico land and declared it a national monument. While the move is meant to work towards preserving the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks area, many are opposed to the designation calling it a “land grab” that will help to foster drug smuggling by Mexican cartels by interfering with the ability of border patrol agents and local law enforcement to access the area, and impede on the grazing rights of local ranchers. As we have seen recently in Nevada, federal intervention on local grazing lands can ignite conflict rapidly. The question remains: will this move by President Obama escalate to the same levels as the Bundy Standoff?
This latest development has been the largest designation to date by President Obama, his last use of the Antiquities Act- the act that gives the President the power to designate national monuments- was to add 1,600 acres to the California Coastal National Monument, which spans the entire coast of California. And it would seem there is even more to come. At the ceremony on Wednesday Mr. Obama was quoted saying, “I’m not finished,” hinting that he is gearing up to set aside even more land to be declared as national monuments.
But what does this mean for Wyoming ranchers? Fortunately, the state of Wyoming is exempt from the Antiquities Act. When Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole National Monument were combined, the act was amended to require Congressional consent for any future designations in Wyoming. Even though we are safe from the act, Wyoming representatives still oppose such designations by the federal government. After e-mailing our state delegation in Washington, realranchers.com received these statements from Congressman Cynthia Lummis and Senator John Barrasso:
Lummis: “The President has disregarded public input and public problems by single-handedly taking over management of this portion of New Mexico. This will hurt local economic opportunities and even worse limit the abilities of border patrol agents in an area with known drug and human trafficking problems. The federal government cannot effectively manage the acreage they already have. It is absurd for the President to take on even more land.”
Barrasso: “Once again, the President has gone around Congress and disregarded the concerns of local communities and leaders by taking over almost 500,000 acres of land in New Mexico. This latest Washington ‘land grab’ is just another attempt by this Administration to regulate public lands under the guise of conservation. It’s a very real threat to the multiple-use of federal lands—including grazing permits that are so vital to Wyoming’s ranching communities.
“Washington needs to get out of the way and let the Americans who live and work in these communities and know what works best, be in charge of managing the land and its resources. Even though Wyoming is exempt from the Antiquities Act, we know the Administration has used executive orders before to try to grab land and limit state and local input. The entire Wyoming delegation will remain vigilant and ready to step in and stop any attempt by Washington to take over Wyoming’s resources.”
Though Wyomingites appear to be safe from “land grabs” such as these, it is important to keep in mind that these actions still pose a threat to ranchers and landowners across the nation.
For more information visit http://www.beefusa.org/newsreleases1.aspx?NewsID=4223
E-mail Congressman Lummis here- https://lummis.house.gov/contact/contactform.htm?zip5=82001&zip4=
E-mail Senator Barrasso here- http://www.barrasso.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUs.ContactForm