NCBA, PLC, NMCGA Oppose President's Designation of National Monuments in New Mexico
WASHINGTON — The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the Public Lands Council (PLC) and the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) expressed concern today over the recent announcement by President Barack Obama that, despite efforts to curb spending and tighten the belts on state and federal budgets, his administration has designated five new national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Act grants the president the authority to designate “national monuments” for purposes of protecting specific landmarks and structures of historical significance on public lands.
While NCBA, PLC and NMCGA recognize that four of President Obama’s five designations fit within the original intent of the Act, the organizations oppose the roughly 240,000-acre designation in New Mexico as its expansive size violates the spirit of the law and is likely to serve only as a hindrance to multiple-use of those public lands.
“Livestock producers disagree with the President’s use of the Antiquities Act in designating the sprawling Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico,” said NCBA President Scott George, a cattleman from Cody, Wyo. “We have long advocated the economic and environmental importance of multiple-use on our public lands in the West. In the past, similar such inappropriately large monument designations have a bad track record of putting in place tight restrictions that harm ranchers, local rural economies and the proper management of natural resources.”
A 2011 study from Southern Utah University and Utah State University showed the damaging economic impacts of inappropriate monument designations. In a case study of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), per-capita income in counties located within the monument was shown to be $1,799 below that of comparable counties. Communities in and around the GSENM have suffered from a heavy reduction of multiple uses such as livestock grazing. School closures in the area are just one manifestation of the economic distress caused by the designation.
“The Antiquities Act specifically limits the size and scope of designated areas to the ‘smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’ This roughly 240,000-acre designation in New Mexico clearly falls outside the scope of congressional intent,” said PLC President and Hesperus, Colo., rancher Brice Lee. “It is just another example of this administration’s persistent use of administrative actions to attempt to circumvent Congress at every step.”
NMCGA President Rex Wilson, a rancher from Carrizozo, N.M., added that his organization and the cattlemen it represents oppose abuses of the Antiquities Act such as the designation of this monument.
“We encourage Congress to respond to this action by amending the Antiquities Act to give local communities a voice and put a stop to such overreach by this administration,” Wilson said. “NMCGA calls for congressional and state government approval of monuments so that affected citizens may speak through their elected representatives and not simply be forced to accept edicts handed down from Washington.”