Put down Rep. Mark Amodei as miffed by the executive fiat that puts 700,000 acres of Lincoln and Nye counties as a national monument.
Today he released this statement dripping with sarcasm:
“I guess I missed the Nevada delegation meeting to discuss the second largest conservation withdrawal in the history of the state. At least when Senator Bryan was looking for a legacy, they processed it through something resembling regular order.
“I keep searching for the resolutions from the Nye and Lincoln county commissions requesting unilateral action by two political pals to carve out the state of Rhode Island from Nevada, but to no avail.
“I look forward to visiting the ‘Hairy Berry National Monument’ and joining with my colleague Rep. Hardy in sponsoring legislation to put Rhode Island back in the lead for acreage.”
According to a report by the Washington Post:
“It is only due to Harry Reid that this is getting done,” said a former Obama adviser who was close to the process.”
Although Obama has shown an increased willingness to use his authority under the Antiquities Act this term, some of his aides were initially surprised by the push to protect the Basin and Range. There were other proposals that had been vetted for a longer period of time, such as ones to safeguard California’s Lake Berryessa and the Waco Mammoth site in Texas.
“This was on nobody’s radar screen, and it certainly wasn’t part of the plan,” said one person close to the president who has been involved in the discussions. When the question of possible controversy was broached, Obama said: “I don’t care. I want this done.”
In stark contrast to this designation driven by two men, there is a long history of consensus-based public lands designations in Nevada started at the county level involving county commissions and representative stakeholders before the drafting of federal legislation, which then goes through the public hearing and markup process. Even then, it can take years and multiple Congresses to pass such designations into law. The Basin and Range National Monument underwent no such transparent process.
At the Congressional Western Caucus webiste, others chimed in:
“President Obama often says ‘we are stronger as a nation when we work together.’ Apparently that rule does not apply to public lands issues when it involves his political allies,” said Rep. Joe Heck. “The Basin and Range Monument designation goes well beyond the intention of the Antiquities Act which limits parcels reserved by the President to the ‘smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’ It is beyond belief that an area larger than the state of Rhode Island is the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of this land.
“I feel strongly that the best management of our public lands comes only through methodical consideration and partnership across all levels of local, state and federal government,” said Rep Cresent Hardy. “That’s why I’m disappointed for the Nevadans who were left out of the process, including the commissioners of both counties affected: Lincoln and Nye. In May, I broke the news of the Administration’s plan to make the Basin and Range National Monument designation, and this week introduced an amendment to protect local input and increase transparency with such designations, which was adopted and I hope to see pass in the near future.
“We need to be sure local communities don’t have their concerns ignored by politicians eager to leave a legacy or pull favors for their friends by setting aside huge tracts of land. Nevada’s rural county economies are particularly sensitive, and any decisions that restrict ranching, recreation or other types of land use activities should have as much local input as possible. We should empower local communities and local stakeholders most affected by monument designations to have a legitimate voice in the process, but at the moment, they do not. Legacy building in the twilight of one’s career shouldn’t be the driver of our nation’s public land management.”