Newspaper column: Zinke’s national monument modifications too modest

Frankly, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s memo to President Trump recommending modifications to a few national monuments — including the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in Clark County — is far too modest, but it has the Democratic contingent of Nevada’s Washington delegation squealing like a pig stuck under a gate.

Zinke recommended unspecified changes to the Gold Butte boundaries but totally ignored the massive 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument that straddles the border between Nye and Lincoln counties, even though members of the Congressional Western Caucus recommended reducing it to 2,500 acres — “the smallest area compatible,” as the law says, to protect the Indian petroglyphs there.

The Interior Secretary noted in his memo that the Antiquities Act of 1906 gave the president authority to protect historic and prehistoric landmarks and objects of scientific and historic interest, but the monument designation has instead been used to block use of vast landscapes. “It appears that certain monuments were designated to prevent economic activity such as grazing, mining, and timber production rather than to protect specific objects,” the memo observes.

Ryan Zinke visits Gold Butte (R-J pix)

He also noted that the public comment process has been usurped by well-organized, well-funded, self-styled environmental groups, drowning out local officials, ranchers, miners and loggers.

These environmental groups and their Democratic cohorts are dead set on protecting every inch of barren dirt and rock from the invasive non-native species known as mankind.

Not that any of them has ever worked as a roughneck or roustabout in the grease orchards, castrated a calf or branded a steer, driven a Euclid filled with ore or operated a jackhammer or a chainsaw or cashed a pay check for doing so.

Democrat Rep. Ruben Kihuen of North Las Vegas, whose district includes Gold Butte, screeched about Zinke’s modest memo, “This decision will not only be detrimental to Nevada’s economy and shared cultural heritage, but it is further proof that the monument review process has been rigged from the start. Secretary Zinke promised that Nevadans’ voices would be heard. Instead, we got half-hearted attempts to meet with stakeholders and secret memos cooked up behind closed doors, all when the outcome was predetermined from the beginning. When it comes to altering our monuments and impacting our livelihood, Nevadans deserve more than unofficial leaks and uncorroborated reports. Secretary Zinke should look Nevadans in the eye and give it to us straight, rather than hide behind the administration’s continued shroud of secrecy.”

Actually, his constituents in Mesquite welcome the reduction, especially if it assures the town it will have access to springs in the region that will be needed to supply the growing community with drinking water in the future.

Zinke’s memo specifically noted that the water district has historic water rights to six springs and five of those are within the Obama-designated national monument boundaries. The memo further said that there are four active grazing allotments in the area, though the proclamation claimed there were none.

Democrat Rep. Dina Titus of Las Vegas weighed in by declaring, “Gold Butte’s opponents have created a straw man argument about water rights without mentioning that the monument’s proclamation includes language to protect them. Now we must recommit our effort to protect these precious public lands in the courts and send a strong message to Zinke and Trump to keep their hands off our monuments.”

Democrat Rep. Jacky Rosen of Henderson claimed, “This rash decision by the Trump Administration will not only endanger Nevada’s natural beauty and chip away at our cultural heritage, but it will also hurt our state’s outdoor recreation economy by eliminating jobs that have contributed significantly to our local tourism industry.”

Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Las Vegas has opposed reducing the footprint of any national monument.

Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei both opposed the designations of Gold Butte and Basin and Range.

Heller said, “As a strong proponent of states’ rights, the Obama Administration’s decision to bypass Congress and designate two national monuments in Nevada despite widespread disagreement at the local level is an example of extreme overreach and the failed Washington-knows-best mentality. That is why I welcomed Secretary Zinke to Nevada to see first-hand the impact of monuments designated under the Antiquities Act with no local input.”

The monument designation does nothing to add actual protection for the few petroglyphs and other artifacts that are located on the sites, but Zinke did recommend the president seek funding to actually protect those artifacts.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

13 comments on “Newspaper column: Zinke’s national monument modifications too modest

  1. deleted says:

    So, I know the Constitution provides the authority for Congress to make rules regarding federal land, and I know that Congress made a law that provided authority for the president to designate land as a national monument, but I missed the part about any authority a president has under the law to change and reduce the amount previously designated.

    Maybe if this administration weren’t so focused on keeping up with charter jet schedules, they’d have had some time to read what the law said; as if that mattered.

  2. SCOTUS: Power to create implies power to rescind.

  3. deleted says:

    Is that an enumberated power Thomas? Because, I know how emphatic you’ve been about that in the past.

    I mean, the Constitution gives Congress the power to make laws, and they did when they enacted the Antiquities Act but does the Act Congress made pursuant to their enumberated Congressional authority say anything at all about rescinding?

    And since we both know the answer is no, I’m wondering why this article doesn’t attack the administration for their efforts to usurp their authority.

  4. Actually, the Antiquities Act is unconstitutional, since Congress does not have the power to gave away to the executive the power to control public lands without an amendment.

  5. deleted says:

    According to….

  6. […] the Natural Resources Committee, Nevada’s congressional delegation is divided along party lines when it comes to national monuments. The four Democrats have all objected bitterly and volubly to […]

  7. Anonymous says:

    Drain that swamp eh? This is really insane.

    Big gov’ment crook steal from “we the people” investigation began, investigator immediately done away with and new political appointee inserted to take over. A nation of men now boys. Law means nothing and I look forward to the cheers from the right.

    “The Interior Department’s internal watchdog referred its investigation of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Department of Justice (DOJ) more than two weeks ago, just days before it was announced that Interior would be getting a Trump political appointee to replace its acting inspector general, two sources confirmed to The Hill.

    Ben Carson, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), told his staff on Oct. 12 that Suzanne Tufts would be leaving HUD to replace Interior’s longtime acting inspector general (IG), Mary Kendall — after the watchdog referred its probe to the Justice Department, according to two government sources with knowledge of the timeline.”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Another rat getting off the ship before it sinks, a rat that stole for himself and his fellows all he could get and is leaving while the getting is still good, or a criminal that believes if he gets out now, that his pursuers will just give up?

    For me, I guess any of these is a possibility, but I sure hope the New Democratic house goes after him, and Pruitt, and De’Vos, and the rest of the thieves that have so corrupted this country along with their master, like crazed dogs and prove that the rule of law still means something in our “beloved constitutional republic”

    “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will depart the administration amid growing controversy over allegations that he violated ethics rules, President Trump announced Saturday.

    Trump tweeted early Saturday that Zinke “will be leaving the Administration at the end of the year after having served for a period of almost two years.

    Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, has been the subject of more than a dozen investigations for his conduct in office, including scrutiny over a land deal involving a foundation he led and a company backed by David Lesar, chairman of oilfield services company Halliburton.”

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why the silence about the swamp Thomas? All that cleaning and such that went on Ida thought you woulda been so happy about it knowing how strident you were in the past. The recent past too.

    Oh well, here’s another chance for you in any event. As a side benefit you can take a crack Adelson which has got to be appealing no?

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