US Interior inbox filling with emails about Nevada monument

In this May 26, 2017, photo, a snake lies dying in a road at the Gold Butte National Monument near Bunkerville, Nev. The monument along the Arizona border in Southern Nevada is among the national monuments under Trump administration review. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By KEN RITTER – Associated Press – Saturday, May 27, 2017

LAS VEGAS (AP) – A debate is raging in the inbox of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior about whether President Donald Trump should keep the scenic, ecologically fragile and artifact-rich Gold Butte area in southern Nevada as a national monument.

Comments ranging from “I hope this area will remain protected” to “shut down this monument designation” have been posted in recent weeks about the future of the rugged and arid rangeland covering about 470 square miles (1,217 square kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas.

Many messages are unsigned. Some only mention Gold Butte among the 27 national monuments under Trump administration review, including the vast Basin and Range region covering 1,100 square miles (2,849 square kilometers) of central Nevada. About half of the 109,000 public comments as of Friday referred to Bears Ears monument in Utah.

Gold Butte may be best-known as the grazing area at the center of a cattle round-up and armed standoff in April 2014 involving federal land management agents and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

The remote area is east of the Virgin River, west of the Arizona state line and northeast of the Lake Mead reservoir behind Hoover Dam. It was named for an early 1900s tent town built by miners and ranchers. Today, it attracts hikers, campers, all-terrain-vehicle enthusiasts and researchers trying to decipher ancient rock art symbols of bighorn sheep, desert plants, hand-crafted weapons and human clans.

“Those lands are part of Nevada’s heritage,” said Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. He fought for years to get support from elected officials, Indian tribes and other groups to protect the area as habitat for the threatened Mojave desert tortoise and rare local species of buckwheat and bear poppy.

Mrowka said he planned to submit comments for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s review by a July 10 deadline. “Now is not the time to reverse the process and throw open the doors to more development and abuse,” he said.

Proponents including former Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid convinced former President Barack Obama to designate the area a national monument last December. They point to its Native American artifacts, sandstone formations and Joshua tree forests. U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, a Democrat whose district includes Gold Butte, calls the monument a national treasure.

But Republican members of Nevada’s congressional delegation have been vocal opponents. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei sponsored a measure this year that would restrict the ability of future presidents to designate monuments without approval from Congress.“The federal government already controls about 85 percent of Nevada’s public lands,” Heller said in a statement through his spokeswoman, Megan Taylor. It cited “widespread disagreement at the local level” about the designation, and called it “an example of extreme overreach” and a “Washington-knows-best approach.”The designation generally allows hiking, hunting, fishing and current oil and mining, but it bans new activity. Livestock grazing in Gold Butte has been banned since 1998, under a Clark County law designed to conserve tortoise habitat.

Some writers who identified themselves as local residents said they want the federal government to leave the land alone.

One who said he lives in the nearby town of Bunkerville complained that ranchers were “kicked off their permits or thrown in jail” and miners had lost their claims. Monument designation only makes matters worse, he said.

Another said she feared that the monument designation would draw more tourists to the area.

Posted in (AP) Associated Press, BLM, Concord Patch, Land, News.

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2 Comments

  1. “Where in the original organic constitution for the united States is it stated that the federal government has the right to make a decision which rightly is the province of the State of Nevada?”

    That same question applies to all the other States also, as well as being applicable to so-called National Monuments, National Parks, and any other landgrabs orchestrated by an overreaching and tyranical federal government.

    In fact, the federal government is specifically forbidden in Article 1, Section 8 of that constitution, which explicitly forbids the federal government to OWN any land contained within ANY State. The feds are allowed to claim ownership of land within Territories, but is required to cede ownership to any state upon winning statehood standing. This is called the Doctring of Equal Footing so that every new State has the same situation as the original 13 Colonies.

    The federal government is also permitted, with Congressional Consent, to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over 10 miles square for the seat of government (Washington DC). If the feds have need of any land lying within State boundaries, such as military bases, post offices or local offices for members of Congress, the legislature of that State may consent to lease that land, but only to accomplish those actions ascribed by that same constitution.

    It is only by returning to the constitution as originally written that our beloved country can be saved. Read both the Constitution for the united States as well as the Declaration of Independence. Become familiar with them. Study them. Know exactly what the say, and more importantly what they mean. If we don’t do that, we will certainly lose this country God has blessed us with.

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