Gold Butte and Bear’s Ears

The US has a new national monument, and no it’s not Trump’s Ego. It’s Gold Butte, in Nevada.

The declaration places 300,000 acres of land under the protection of the Bureau of Land Management. Obama used the Antiquities Act to shelter land between Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon.

In addition, Obama declared the Bears Ears region of Utah a national monument under the same law.

“I am designating two new national monuments in the desert landscapes of southeastern Utah and southern Nevada to protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

They have Native American artifacts, such as petroglyphs. Gold Butte also has a difficult neighbor: Cliven Bundy. He thinks that land should belong to him, to exploit as he sees fit.

Gold Butte is near the ranch of Cliven Bundy, who along with local farmers and ranchers has sought to keep the property available for agricultural use.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., urged Obama not to designate the land as a national monument because of concerns by local constituents.

What kind of “concerns”? The kind that want public land to be for private exploitation, not conservation and education.

Conservatives have voiced concern about the lack of input in designations.

Those concerns resulted in an armed standoff with Bundy, his sons and their supporters, including militia and patriot groups that had gathered on the family’s Bunkerville ranch in April 2014.

That is, these bogus “concerns” were Bundy’s excuse for trespassing on federal land and pulling guns on federal workers who attempted to evict them – evict them from public land, land that did not and does not belong to them. It wasn’t some agentless “armed standoff,” it was Bundy and his gang illegally occupying other people’s land using the threat of lethal force.

Bureau of Land Management officials left the property following the standoff and did not return until 2016. A White House official downplayed any safety concerns and said there is no elevated enforcement status at Gold Butte.

Bundy faces criminal charges in federal court over the confrontation. He has claimed ancestral rights to the Gold Butte property.

Those aren’t “concerns.” They’re just a desire to exploit public lands for a steeply discounted price, in order to make money. Sure, I’d love it if the feds gave me a bunch of money too, but that’s not a “concern.” The feds don’t owe Cliven Bundy cheap grazing for his cattle. We the people don’t owe Cliven Bundy cheap grazing for his cattle.

Also, again, it wasn’t a “confrontation.” It was a slew of criminal acts.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld previous actions by presidents, despite controversy over the use of the Antiquities Act to set aside public lands for conservation and to save artifacts.

No national monument declaration has been overturned by another president. Any repeal would take congressional action.

Conservationists and Native American tribes have long sought the protection of the Gold Butte area.

Gold Butte is filled with ancient rock art, sweeping desert vistas and twisted pastel-colored sandstone formations.

The area has suffered a great deal of damage from vandals and off-road vehicles since 2014, according to the Friends of Gold Butte, a local nonprofit group whose members monitor the area and advocate on its behalf.

Which is better – to let people destroy Gold Butte for the fun of it, or to conserve it? I’m going to go with the latter.

The designation will help the Paiute tribes better protect the lands by allowing them to work hand-in-hand with the federal government, according to William Anderson, former chairman for the Moapa Band of Paiutes.

Anderson said the tribe members can provide expertise on what is culturally sensitive in the area while the federal government brings better protection and upkeep to the historic area.

But Cliven Bundy wants to graze his cattle there – will no one think of what Cliven Bundy wants?

Since the Antiquities Act was passed, 16 presidents have designated 152 national monuments using the legislative authority, according to the National Parks Conservation Association.

The conservative Heritage Foundation has urged Congress to repeal the law, citing Obama’s use to set aside land in Colorado, Hawaii and Illinois as abuse of legislation originally passed to protect against the looting of archeological sites.

The Heritage Foundation said recent declarations have thwarted economic opportunity and removed states and private citizens from decisions made on land use.

Funny how the Heritage Foundation is called conservative yet it opposes conservation.

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