Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after the House successfully passed an amendment by a vote of 222-206 that he spearheaded along with Congressman Cresent Hardy (NV-04) to prohibit public land management agencies from carrying out declarations under the Antiquities Act in counties where there is significant local opposition:
“Arizona has experienced significant harm from special land use designations like this in the past. Unfortunately, certain special interest groups and a few misguided members of Arizona’s delegation have been pushing for the President to circumvent Congress and make a massive 1.7 million acre designation using the Antiquities Act for the Grand Canyon Watershed. Their intentions are clear: they want this designation in order to prevent hunting, mining, timber harvesting and grazing on this massive swath of land.
“A unilateral declaration of the nearly two million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed as a National Monument would stifle development, kill jobs and erode the extensive cooperation and success that federal and state agencies in Arizona have achieved to date. The Antiquities Act has been significantly abused by this rogue president and today the House took bold action to prevent future executive land grabs throughout the country.”
Some of the concerns that have been expressed by local communities and organizations include:
“The creation of a National Monument by President declaration does not allow for input from local communities…; could result negative impacts… for grazing, hunting, water development and forest restoration…which would result in negative economic and public health impacts to the City of Williams.”
"The Town Council of the Town of Fredonia is concerned that the impact from the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument “on the Town and its citizens includes but is not limited to: (a) the closing of three businesses…(b) the impairment of small independent businesses…(c) expected reduction or even extinction of local ranching efforts…(d) loss of recreation and tourism…”
“In closing, we believe the proposal is a clear attempt to by-pass the ongoing planning and management efforts that serve wildlife, wildlife habitat, and the public well with the intent of satisfying a few special interest groups.”
“This proposed designation would almost double the amount of acreage designated as national monuments in Arizona and would be the nation's second largest national monument…the proposed monument designation would severely impact thousands of acres of state trust lands locked up within its boundaries and deny their beneficial use to the trust…”
The federal government’s ability to set aside land for monuments and national parks comes from the Antiquities Act of 1906, which was originally intended to protect prehistoric Indian ruins and artifacts on federal lands in the West. More than one hundred years later, the original purpose of this bill has been significantly abused; more than 130 million acres and more than 100 national monuments now exist. President Obama has used the Antiquities Act 16 times now, limiting public input and bypassing Congress each time.
President Obama has created or expanded 16 national monuments during his tenure.
The Gosar-Hardy amendment prohibits pending Presidential designations of a National Monument in specified counties including Mohave and Coconino in Arizona; Modoe and Siskiyou in California; Chaffee, Moffat, and Park in Colorado; Lincoln, Clark and Nye in Nevada; Otero in New Mexico; Jackson, Josephine and Malheur in Oregon; Wayne, Garfield and Kane in Utah.
Earlier this year, three Democrats from Arizona’s delegation sent a letter to the President asking him to unilaterally designate 1.7 million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed as a National Monument.
Arizona already has 18 national monuments, more than any other state. Nearly 50 percent of all land in Arizona is already under federal management and ‘more than 77 percent of Arizona’s lands are restricted from public access and recreation...’
In February, Congressman Gosar spearheaded an effort in opposition to this land grab and demanded that President Obama not use the Antiquities Act to designate the Grand Canyon Watershed as a National Monument. 24 different members in the House as well as Senators McCain and Flake joined Rep. Gosar in opposing this potential designation at that time. More info can be found HERE.
The Gosar-Hardy amendment had significant support from organizations and citizens throughout the country including: American Farm Bureau, Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA), Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA), Americans for Responsible Recreation Access (ARRA), Eagle Forum, Arizona Cattleman’s Association, Arizona Farm Bureau, Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, Arizona Cattle Feeders' Association, the Arizona Mining Association, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Association, the Colorado Snowmobile Association, the Trails Preservation Alliance, Colorado Wool Growers Association, Arizona Rock Products, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Americans for Limited Government, Coconino County Farm Bureau and Cattle Growers Association, Yavapai Cattle Growers Association, Navajo/Apache Cattle Growers Association, Greenlee Cattle Growers Association, La Paz Stockmen’s Association, Mohave Livestock Association, Gila County Cattle Growers Association, Maricopa County Cattle Growers Association, Cochise /Graham Cattle Growers Association, Southern Arizona Cattlemen's Protective Association, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, La Paz County Supervisor King Clapperton, City of Williams, Mohave Sportsman Club, Town of Fredonia, Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, Anglers United, AZ Antelope Foundation, AZ BASS Nation, AZ Big Game Super Raffle, AZ Bowhunters Association, AZ Chapter of Safari Club International, AZ Deer Association, AZ Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, AZ Elk Society, AZ Houndsmen Association, AZ Outdoor Sports, Coconino Sportsmen, Outdoor Experience 4 All, South Eastern AZ Sportsmen’s Club, SRT Outdoors, The BASS Federation, Xtreme Predator Callers, 1.2.3.Go…