Montana Rancher Calls for Better Management and Congressional Approval of National Monuments
WASHINGTON — Today, a Montana rancher testified before Congress on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) in support of legislation to require congressional approval for the designation of national monuments. Travis Brown, a cattleman from Sand Springs, Mont., told the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation that the National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 2192) would place much-needed limits on the President’s unilateral power to designate national monuments and limit misuse of the Antiquities Act of 1906 by the executive branch.
Brown, a fourth-generation rancher, told committee members his family ranching operation depends on a cooperative partnership on public lands and making responsible use of the forage on those lands. However, Brown said that mismanagement of nationally designated monuments by the federal government has caused issues such as reduced livestock grazing, reduced timber management, and as a result, vegetation overgrowth causing a major reduction in water flow and increased threat of wildfire, all threats which impact local communities and agricultural operations.
During his testimony, Brown called for support of H.R. 2192 introduced by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), stating that the bill would apply the benefits of congressional deliberation to all potential monuments, and ensure that the voices of those impacted on the ground are heard through local hearings, a comments process and their elected officials. The legislation would further prevent sweeping monument designations by allowing the President to designate only “the smallest area essential to ensure the proper care and management of the objects to be protected” and by requiring restrictions on land rights to be very narrowly tailored to ensure the objects’ protection.
“Despite the broadening acclaim for public lands livestock grazing’s environmental and economic benefits, today’s public land livestock industry faces challenges unlike ever before, making the goals of a stable business environment and long-term grazing plans increasingly difficult to achieve,” Brown said. “Adding to these factors the ever-present threat of a national monument designation, livestock producers face a business environment that is less stable than ever. Countless ranching families like mine stand to be impacted should more massive monument designations go forward.”
Brown finished his testimony by reminding the committee that it is in the best interest of supporters of conservation to keep ranchers in business.
“The best way to leave a legacy and protect these truly special places is by leaving them in the hands of the responsible stewards on the local level who have carefully managed this resource for generations,” he said. “Ranchers are the ones keeping private land as open space rather than housing developments. We are on the ground day in and day out, watching over the land and resources, because our livelihoods depend on it.”