GR: This insightful blog post provides historical perspective for public lands protection.
“The recent designation of Bears Ear National Monument in southern Utah by President Obama engendered a predictable storm of rhetorical protest from Utah’s politicians. Yet a review of their comments and those made historically by western politicians when earlier Presidents had unilaterally created public reserves shows surprisingly consistent responses.
“In 1887, two weeks before leaving office, Democratic President Grover Cleveland after losing his bid for re-election to Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison, set aside 20 million acres of western lands as “forest reserves.” Republicans were offended that a “discredited leader” of a party that had suffered defeat in national elections two months before could unilaterally create new reserves on public lands.
“Reaction to President Grover Cleveland’s 1887 decision to create forest reserves (precursors to our national forests) in western states resulted in similar local outrage and calls to repeal the new reserves. In one historic account of events, the author claims that “in every case…these political spokesmen claimed they spoke for the people of the West. Their solicitude for the settler was in party hypocritical, insofar as they sought to use individual entry and claim to public lands for the enlargement of their own special interests.”
“For instance, Senator Wilson of Washington characterized the proclamation as a “ghastly mistake” and “dasterdly blunder”. He called it a “violation of all rights without notice to anyone.”
“Senator Petticrew of South Dakota denounced the order as contrary to law and called for the entire revocation of it.” –George Wuerthner (Continue learning: The noisy political attack on new national monuments. We have heard the same now for 130 years.)