News

News

Don’t Reverse National Monument Designations

April 12, 2017

Western Democratic Senators Tell Trump: Don’t Reverse National Monument Designations

Senators urge president to uphold protections for Bears Ears National Monument, all 157 national monuments

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall led a group of Western Democratic senators in calling on President Donald Trump to live up to his repeated promises on the campaign trail to protect public lands for all Americans and uphold the existing protections for the 157 national monuments, which have been designated throughout the decades by nearly every U.S. president of the last century.

In particular, the senators warned President Trump against reversing the recent designation of the Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah, an unprecedented step that some congressional Republicans have urged the president to take. In their letter, the senators noted that Bears Ears enjoys strong support from the $646 billion outdoor recreation industry, as well as from Tribes, archaeologists, and local conservation organizations. The senators wrote that Tribes with ancestral ties to the Bears Ears region joined forces to protect sacred areas, and that is part of the reason that Bears Ears was designated as the first-ever national monument to be co-managed by Tribes. Rescinding protections for Bears Ears would betray the core commitments that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has made to Tribes and that President Trump made to voters, the senators added.

"Weakening the protections for this deserving landscape [Bears Ears National Monument], or any of the 157 Monuments previously protected, would be a direct affront to the local communities and stakeholders who worked collaboratively to identify and advocated to protect these areas for future generations. This is especially true, in the case of Bears Ears National Monument, for the Native American tribes who call this living cultural landscape their ancestral home. It also would cut against your commitment to be a good steward of our nation’s public lands," the senators wrote. "We urge you to maintain the current protections so that our children and grandchildren can experience them with the same wonder we do today.”

They continued, "We urge you to honor your promise to be a great steward of our public lands by upholding the existing protections for the 157 National Monuments that have been designated through the years by nearly every President since the Antiquities Act was enacted into law in 1906. They have protected iconic landscapes across the United States, such as the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, and Olympic National Park in Washington, as well as cultural icons, including the Statue of Liberty and the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument. Removing protections for any of these areas would threaten the cultural, historical and biological wealth of our country.”

In addition to Udall, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

The full text of the letter can be found below and here.

Dear Mr. President,

During your campaign, you stated that America’s protected federal public lands make America great, once stating that, “We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land. And we have to be great stewards of this land.” You promised that, if elected, you’d emulate President Teddy Roosevelt’s efforts to protect public lands for all Americans. During his confirmation hearing, Interior Secretary Zinke reaffirmed your Administration’s commitment to President Roosevelt’s conservation vision. Unfortunately, some members of Congress do not share that commitment to conservation and are calling for the repeal of National Monument designations using a never-tested and questionable legal theory.

We urge you to honor your promise to be a great steward of our public lands by upholding the existing protections for the 157 National Monuments that have been designated through the years by nearly every President since the Antiquities Act was enacted into law in 1906. They have protected iconic landscapes across the United States, such as the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, and Olympic National Park in Washington, as well as cultural icons, including the Statue of Liberty and the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument. Removing protections for any of these areas would threaten the cultural, historical and biological wealth of our country.

In particular, we urge you to reject calls to rescind protections for the Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah. This area contains thousands of archeological and Native American sacred sites currently threatened by looting and vandalism. Notably, this designation represents the first time in which two federal agencies will jointly manage a National Monument along with a commission of elected tribal leaders. For the first time, the designation allows tribal co-management of the Monument—a strong move toward tribal self-determination. Despite the claims of some, there is wide tribal, regional and national support for maintaining protection for Bears Ears. Outdoor recreationists, who drive a $646 billion industry, tribes, archeologists, and local conservation organizations all support the Bears Ears designation.

Most notably, after working individually for decades, the tribes with ancestral ties in this region—the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Uintah and Ouray Ute, and Zuni—joined forces to protect Bears Ears and ensure these sacred areas are maintained for future generations. In addition, six of the seven Navajo Chapter Houses in Utah supported the designation, as did the Tri-Ute Council, the Utah Tribal Leaders Association, the Utah Navajo Commission, the National Congress of American Indians, and 25 additional tribes, including many in our home states. This designation culminated more than 80 years of efforts to protect the Bears Ears region. Changes to the designation would strike at the core of the commitments Secretary Zinke has promised tribes.

Weakening the protections for this deserving landscape, or any of the 157 Monuments previously protected, would be a direct affront to the local communities and stakeholders who worked collaboratively to identify and advocated to protect these areas for future generations. This is especially true, in the case of Bears Ears National Monument, for the Native American tribes who call this living cultural landscape their ancestral home. It also would cut against your commitment to be a good steward of our nation’s public lands. We urge you to maintain the current protections so that our children and grandchildren can experience them with the same wonder we do today.

 

https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/news/press-releases/04/12/2017/western-democratic-senators-tell-trump-dont-reverse-national-monument-designations

Spring Break Guide 2017

New Mexico Guide to Spring Break

It's time for spring break and adventure is right outside your door. Our staff lists the top 7 things to do this spring break and their favorite place to venture out for each of them.

Caving Caving. Lois Manno, Membership Coordinator notes Carslbad Caverns Wilderness as her favorite spot for caving.
 Fishing Fishing. Tisha Broska, Associate Director says the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument is the perfect spot for fishing with the family.
 River Rafting River Rafting. You'll often find Grassroots Organizer Nathan Newcomer in the Gila Wilderness kayaking the Gila River.
 Wildflowering Wildflowering. According to Laticia Edmonds, Office Manager, you can also do some great wildflowering and photography in the Sandia Mountain Wilderness. 
 Camping Camping. Nathan Small, Wilderness Protection Organizer says, "Come down to the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. You can camp in Aguirre Springs Campground and relish the Organ Mountains, the majestic face of the national monument. If primitive camping is more your style then enjoy the Desert Peaks and explore places like Broad Canyon, the heart of the Monument.“ 
 WildlifeWatching  Wildlife Watching. Bighorn sheep watching along the gorge in Rio Grande del Norte is prime location for Traditional Community Organizer, John Olivas.
Hiking Hiking- Manzano Wilderness is one of Staff Attorney Judy Calman's favorite hiking spots.

 

Trump urged to abolish national monuments

Trump urged to abolish national monuments, including 2 in NM

https://www.abqjournal.com/895610/trump-urged-to-abolish-national-monuments.html?fb_action_ids=10210939703559761&fb_action_types=og.likes

 

SANTA FE – A congressman from a bordering state is calling on President-elect Donald Trump to abolish national monuments created during the Obama and Clinton administrations, an idea that could threaten two newly created monuments in New Mexico.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, head of the House Committee on Natural Resources, is getting push-back from conservation groups and some in the New Mexico congressional delegation for his suggestion that Trump could take back monuments preserving public lands from California to Maine.

Obama designated the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in Taos County and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in southern New Mexico.

Doing away with national monuments created by presidential proclamation under the 110-year-old Antiquities Act has never been done, but also has never been legally tested. The act was passed in 1906 during the Republican administration of President Theodore Roosevelt, an early leader in the conservation movement.

“If any administration thinks they’re going to start divesting us of a hundred-year history of lands that belong to every American, they’re going to have to do it over my dead body,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich.

Heinrich was joined in his condemnation of Bishop’s idea by New Mexico Democrats U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján.

“Extremists in Congress may be urging President-elect Trump to take radical and unprecedented actions against our public lands, but I will fight any such actions every step of the way. I urge Western communities to join me in informing Mr. Trump about the value these lands hold for New Mexicans and all Americans,” Udall told the Journal in a statement.

“No president has ever overturned a previous president’s decision to designate a national monument and I sincerely hope that the president-elect respects this precedent so that this treasure of northern New Mexico will be protected and preserved for future generations,” said Luján, referring to the Rio Grande del Norte monument.

But U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico’s only Republican member of Congress, pointed out this week that he had introduced legislation to protect 60,000 acres of the Organ Mountains, as opposed to the 496,000 acres Obama set aside.

“The Antiquities Act requires that a President designate the smallest possible footprint in order to achieve the desired environmental preservation. American’s have witnessed the Obama Administration disregard that part of the law,” Pearce said in a written statement to the Journal.

He called on Trump to review the Organ Mountains designation and others around the country, reducing their footprint “to an acreage supported by existing federal law.” He added, “Additionally, Congress should work with President Trump in the years to come on changing the designation process – so that no future President may unilaterally restrict lands from the people. These decisions must be made in Congress.”

Bishop has said on his website that “communities across the West live in constant fear of unilateral monument declarations.”

Conservation by pen

During the just-concluded presidential campaign, Trump raised a red flag for conservation groups after Obama used a proclamation to designate 87,500 acres of donated Maine woodlands the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

“This decision, done at the stroke of a pen without the support of the local community, undermines the people that live and work right here in Maine,” Trump said in October.

Obama used his pen to designate the two new monuments in New Mexico on land that was already under the federal Bureau of Land Management’s umbrella. The Rio Grande del Norte Monument’s creation in 2013 was supported by a wide range of business, environmental and community groups as a boon for Taos-area tourism, while the Organ Mountains designation was more controversial.

Conservation groups now are urging Obama to make a last-minute national monument proclamation of the Bears Ears area of Utah, which Bishop opposes.

Using the Antiquities Act, Obama has burnished his conservation credentials with the establishment of a total of 28 national monuments across the country. There were 19 designated during the Clinton administration. President George W. Bush created two.

Asked if Trump has authority to rescind monuments, a Department of Interior spokesperson responded in a statement, “We’re not going to speculate on what any new Administration will or won’t do. For over 100 years, both Republican and Democratic presidents have designated monuments to conserve America’s natural, historical and cultural heritage.”

“No president has ever rescinded a national monument,” said Kristen Brengel, vice president of government affairs for the Washington, D.C.-based National Parks Conservation Association. “There is no precedent.”

Bishop and his Utah supporters think it can be done and they especially dislike a Utah monument designated by President Bill Clinton two decades ago.

“Just because somebody who created mistakes like the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument says you can’t do it, or you shouldn’t do it, or it’s questionable – bull crap,” Bishop recently told E&E News, which tracks environmental issues.

“It’s never been done before and that’s why people are saying you can’t do it … of course you can do it. It’s always been implied.”

John Leshy, a former chief attorney for the Department of Interior, said the legally untested Antiquities Act has become a partisan issue.

“The Republican platform calls for eviscerating the Antiquities Act,” Leshy, now professor of law emeritus at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, said by email. The GOP platform approved at this past summer’s national convention calls for a requirement that Congress and state legislatures sign off on any new national monuments.

Because no president has tried to take back a national monument, “there’s no track record on this,” Leshy said. He said there’s a U.S. Attorney General opinion from the 1930s that examined the issue “and concluded that a president cannot undo a monument.”

“That’s not been litigated because no president has ever tried,” Leshy added. “Perhaps Trump can be the first and we’d have a test case.

“In a very few instances, presidents have shrunk the boundaries of monuments proclaimed by their predecessors,” he said. “The extent of that power has not been litigated either.” Leshy said that much more often “Congress or subsequent presidents expand previous presidents’ proclamations, or convert the monument into a (national) park.”

Wilderness Alliance concern

“We are certainly deeply concerned about the Trump administration’s posture on conservation issues,” said Mark Allison, executive director of the Albuquerque-based New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

Allison thinks there is a distinction between executive actions Trump might take to reverse Obama’s actions on immigration issues and what Obama did under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

“Our interpretation is he (Trump) would be unable to completely rescind a national monument under the Antiquities Act. He may have the authority to modify boundaries or acres, but we think this is extremely unlikely,” Allison said in a phone interview.

“From a political standpoint, these national monuments have widespread support,” Allison said of the two recently created New Mexico monuments. “It is inconceivable for him (Trump) to rescind them.”

Udall’s statement noted a broad coalition that supported the Taos-area monument. “The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument also supports cultural traditions like hunting, grazing and irrigation – and it has been embraced by the local community,” said Udall. Any reversal “would be a massive betrayal of the public interest, putting many of our most precious natural landscapes at risk, and such an action would face strong legal challenge,” he said.

Rio Grande del Norte extends from Pilar along the Rio Grande south of Taos north to the New Mexico-Colorado border and includes over 242,000 acres of volcanic cones and the 800-foot deep Rio Grande Gorge.

The 496,000-acre Organ Mountains monument is home to ancient petroglyphs and lava flows, rare plants and animals, and vast recreational and hunting areas. Ranchers said the monument designation could complicate the already strict rules governing use of federal lands and make ranching tougher.

Public Lands of Enchantment

By Martin Heinrich | September 23, 2016
Posted on NMPolitics.net http://nmpolitics.net/index/2016/09/public-lands-of-enchantment/

COMMENTARY: Our land is an integral part of who we are as New Mexicans. The Land of Enchantment is home to many national forests, parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, and other public lands.

These are outdoor treasures that are owned by all of us, from ranchers who graze their livestock, to backcountry hunters and anglers, to families who take their kids on a weekend nature hike or camping trip. And the outdoor recreation economy our public lands support is responsible for 68,000 jobs and $6.1 billion of annual economic activity in our state.

The idea of shared, public land has deep roots in New Mexico. Aldo Leopold, U.S. Senators Clinton P. Anderson and Jeff Bingaman, and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall all played major roles in creating and protecting the places we go to seek refuge, responsibly managing our natural resources, and preserving our cultural heritage.

Leopold, who had the vision and influence to protect 500,000 acres of mountains, rivers, and mesas in New Mexico, which eventually became the Gila Wilderness, wrote in his Sand County Almanac, “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

In the Senate, in partnership with U.S. Senator Tom Udall, I am proud to work with communities across New Mexico to build on our state’s rich legacy of conservation.

Over the last four years, despite a tough partisan climate in Washington, New Mexicans have celebrated major conservation victories.

Together we created the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness in Taos County, home to some of the best elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep habitat in New Mexico. Designating this area at the head waters of the Red River and Rio Hondo had broad community support from Taos Pueblo, local government leaders, business owners, land grant heirs, acequia parcientes, sportsmen, ranchers, and conservationists.

After extensive input from local residents, sportsmen, business owners, and elected officials, we transitioned the Valles Caldera National Preserve to National Park Service management, opening this stunning landscape inside the crater of a collapsed super-volcano to greater public access. The preserve model also ensured that hunting and fishing remain central activities for the public to enjoy.
Advertisement

In 2013, New Mexico welcomed the designation the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument near Taos and the following year the designation of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in Doña Ana County. Both of these community-driven monuments permanently protect iconic landscapes, increase recreational access, and are proving to be good for business. New visitors from across the country and around the world are fueling New Mexico’s tourism industry and creating new jobs.

I was also proud to stand with the community in Albuquerque’s South Valley and secure resources to turn the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, a 570-acre oasis in the Rio Grande Bosque, into a place filled with educational and recreational programs. There is so much opportunity at Valle de Oro to help New Mexico kids discover the incredible natural heritage of our state right in their backyard, while supporting vital river and habitat conservation.

Last year, I also secured a three-year extension and $450 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), an increase of 47 percent over the previous year’s funding. For more than 50 years, this vital conservation program has protected some of our most treasured public lands and created many community parks across the state. I will continue fighting to fully fund and permanently reauthorize LWCF so New Mexico’s landscapes will be protected and accessible for our children and future generations to enjoy.

While we have much to celebrate in conservation gains, we have also witnessed renewed threats from a growing campaign of special interests and extremist groups to seize and sell off the American people’s public lands.

As the instigators of the attack on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon begin to face trial, I sincerely hope that they will see consequences for their dangerous actions. New Mexicans serve as park rangers and wildlife biologists, volunteer in visitor centers, and routinely hunt, fish, and camp with their families on these public lands. The possibility that their offices and community buildings may be overrun in an armed siege is simply unacceptable.

The idea that these lands should be transferred to states or private auctions is equally concerning. Proponents of land giveaway bills in state legislatures across the West argue that states are better equipped to manage our natural wonders than the United States Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management. But what they don’t say is that their proposals would raise the possibility that some of the lands would be turned over to the highest bidder and that Western taxpayers would be saddled with the costs of overseeing the rest.

This would result in a proliferation of locked gates and “No Trespassing” signs in places that have been open to the public and used for generations. And it would devastate outdoor traditions like hunting, camping, and fishing that are among the pillars of Western culture and a thriving outdoor recreation economy.

Questions of how to best use our public lands to promote the public good can sometimes be contentious and controversial. But that’s exactly why we all need to be at the table making those decisions. There are real problems that need to be solved, like creating more access points for recreation, hunting, and fishing, as I have proposed doing with a bill I introduced called the HUNT Act. But these are problems we can solve because of the very fact that these lands are public, and we each have a voice in their management.

As we celebrate Public Lands Day, I remain deeply committed to standing with New Mexicans to protect and conserve our public lands, watersheds, and wildlife for all to enjoy. I can’t think of anything more fundamentally American than defending the land we all love.

Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, represents New Mexico in the U.S. Senate.

Subcategories

Search

NM Wild Supporters

NM Wild News

  • Taos News: The truth about the 'Protect the Pecos' campaign (2) +

    Printed in the Taos News, July 28, 2016 PDF of this Article There is an unfortunate impression by some that Read More
  • Diverse coalition praises effort to preserve special lands in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument +

    Legislation introduced by Sens. Udall and Heinrich would protect wilderness within the national monument Las Cruces, New Mexico (June 10, Read More
  • Wild Guide: Passport to New Mexico Wilderness +

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                         CONTACT: Tisha Broska, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.         New Mexico Wilderness Alliance releases comprehensive guide to the state’s wildlands Albuquerque, Read More
  • Taos News: Thanks to feds working to preserve wilderness areas +

    Published in the Taos News, May 6, 2016 An amendment added recently to a federal energy bill would create two Read More
  • Conservationists Intervene on Behalf of Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduction Efforts in New Mexico +

    Download the PDF   June 6, 2016Contacts:Defenders of Wildlife: Catalina Tresky (202) 772-0253, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for Biological Diversity: Michael Robinson (575) Read More
  • Protect the Pecos Photo Contest +

    Protect the Pecos Photo Contest The contest is open May 1st through August 31st. The deadline is 5PM Mountain Time Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31
  • 32
  • 33
  • 34
  • 35
  • 36
  • 37
  • 38
  • 39
  • 40
  • 41
  • 42
  • 43
  • 44
  • 45
  • 46
  • 47
  • 48
  • 49
  • 50
  • 51
  • 52
  • 53
  • 54
  • 55
  • 56
  • 57
  • 58
  • 59
  • 60
  • 61
  • 62
  • 63
  • 64
  • 65
  • 66
  • 67
  • 68
  • 69
  • 70
  • 71
  • 72
  • 73
  • 74
  • 75
  • 76
  • 77
  • 78
  • 79
  • 80
  • 81
  • 82
  • 83
  • 84
  • 85
  • 86
  • 87
  • 88
  • 89
  • 90
  • 91
  • 92
  • 93
  • 94
  • 95
  • 96
  • 97
  • 98
  • 99
  • 100
  • 101
  • 102
  • 103
  • 104
  • 105
  • 106
  • 107
  • 108
  • 109
  • 110
  • 111
  • 112
  • 113
  • 114
  • 115
  • 116
  • 117
  • 118
  • 119
  • 120
  • 121
  • 122
  • 123
  • 124
  • 125
  • 126
  • 127
  • 128
  • 129
  • 130
  • 131
  • 132
  • 133
  • 134
  • 135
  • 136
  • 137
  • 138
  • 139
  • 140
  • 141
  • 142
  • 143
  • 144
  • 145
  • 146
  • 147
  • 148
  • 149