Image from FriendsofGoldButte.org
There’s been a lot of talk about this of late. In what appears to be a trend of short-sighted, bitter, and petulant behavior by the newly power-infused republicans, there is a concerted effort to take away a president’s power to create National Monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
Nevada state republicans, now four strong, have targeted Gold Butte, a stretch of red rock desert between Las Vegas and Mesquitte that’s decorated with enough Native American rock art to be deemed the Louvre of the Mojave. It sits just outside the northwest border of the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. It’s also pretty much ground zero of the laughably insipid “land war” between the polygamist racist Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management.
You may recall that last year, a collective of silly anti-establishment gunslingers wanting to play Old West once again protected Bundy’s baseless claim that the land on which his thousands of unpermitted cattle graze is not subject to government claim. It’s an absurd joke that the situation garnered the attention of the country, which did nothing more than reassure us all that Militia-happy “Patriots” want nothing more than an excuse to play guns. (Anyone who took part in that rally of idiocy has lost all right to ever bitch about the Kardashians rise to fame.)
But I digress.
Point is, republicans believe that Obama is just throwing darts at a map and naming the random landing locations after his daughters. The Antiquities Act is a time-honored, never-abused piece of legislation that has done wonders for the local economies in which they’re located. Here are just a few National Monuments so named using the Executive Order granted by the Antiquities Act:
- Devil’s Tower, WY
- Canyon de Chelly, AZ
- Fort Monroe, VA
- Fort Pulaski, GA
- Fort Sumter, SC
- Giant Sequoia, CA
- Little Bighorn Battlefield, MT
- San Juan Islands, WA
- Statue of Liberty, NY
- World War II Valor in the Pacific, HI/CA/AL
I have personally gained employment because of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, created by President Clinton in 1996, as have countless other backpacking guides, fly fishing guides, gear shop employees, and restaurant workers.
The Silver State’s GOP also wants to prevent Obama from expanding the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, which showcases an extravagant collection of dinosaur remains just north of Las Vegas. In case you haven’t been up that way, rest assured that’s all there is up that way: desert and dinosaur bones. (Of course, dinosaur bones do suggest, you know, science, so there’s that issue to contend with.)
I’m not sure what the republicans are trying to protect, other than the promise they made to their benefactors to do the same thing they want to prevent Obama from doing: making decisions without the input of the subject’s stakeholders.