In a recent announcement from The White House and the Department of the Interior, modifications to two national monuments − Bears’ Ears and other massive set-asides − will both continue to protect objects of significance and important wildlife habitat but also will prioritize public use and access. DSC believes the hunting community should be aware of the significance of these rulings and the effect they will have on hunter-funded conservation.In an order last September, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke expanded hunting and fishing on national monuments demonstrating the administration’s active support of hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands.
By establishing the national monument system, Teddy Roosevelt intended for the status as monument to be pro-conservation, and ultimately, this review of monument status does not dilute those intentions.
The background material provided by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior debunks some of the misinformation floating around the hunting and outdoor community. The antiquities in these monuments will still be on protected land, the process to determine what federal land does and doesn’t qualify for protected status is still valid, and the overreach of federal power will be put in check.
In a recent article in Game Trails, DSC’s quarterly magazine, Terry L. Anderson, DSC’s consulting editor and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, examined the larger issues arising from this review of monument status: which organizations are truly pro-conservation; which decisions will be in the best interest of hunting and thus, hunter-funded conservation through Pittman-Robertson and similar fees; and how to spot the groups that might talk the talk but don’t pass the litmus test. We encourage interested stakeholders to read the article entitled “Strange Bedfellows in Hunt Camp?” which was published this week on DSC NewsCenter and in the Convention issue of Game Trails.
Facts at a glance:
- Bears Ears was originally designated in 2016 to encompass nearly 1.5 million acres, including a patchwork of federal, state and private land. The national monument will be modified to two units encompassing a total of 228,784 acres of land.
- Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument will be modified from 1.9 million acres to three units encompassing a combined 1,006,341 acres — larger than the state of Rhode Island.
- Presidents have modified the boundaries to remove lands from monuments 18 times in the past. The most significant reduction occurred in 1915 when President Woodrow Wilson halved Mount Olympus National Monument, which is now a national park.
- The Antiquities Act requires that objects be of historic or scientific interest, that the area reserved to protect the objects be the smallest area compatible and that monuments be designated on federal land only. Since 1996, several national monuments designations have gone beyond the intent of the Antiquities Act to limit protected areas to the smallest area compatible, and now encompass millions of acres.
- The Trump administration plans to work to put in place new land management policies to protect objects while prioritizing public access, facilitating infrastructure development and allowing traditional uses of the land. This will increase economic growth and prosperity, especially in rural communities, by allowing grazing, commercial fishing, logging, and in some cases, mineral development.
- Improving and developing infrastructure will help the American people experience public lands that have been made inaccessible due to past overreach.
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