685,000+ Send Comments in Support of Bears Ears National Monument

GR:  For-profit enterprises control many public land management decisions in the U. S. and elsewhere. For Bears Ears National Monument, the USDI, the agency responsible for more public  lands than any other, must now decide whether it will represent citizen wishes or corporate interests. Bears Ears is a public lands test of a citizen petition to control a public land management decision. Fingers crossed. However, this is a contest that has a critical outcome. Thus, we should take the “all of the above” approach and participate in other activist efforts announced on Facebook and other media to place public pressure on Zinke.

“A coalition of conservation groups and others announced Thursday that a historic number of comments and petitions of support have been submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior in support of Bears Ears National Monument. Despite the entirely inadequate 15-day comment period ending on May 26, more than 685,000 comments in support of Bears Ears National Monument have been collected.

“The tremendous amount of public input in such a short amount of time is a powerful demonstration of support for indigenous rights and the places we all hold dear,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “Secretary Zinke would be wise to join in support of Tribal Nations and preserve Bears Ears.”

“The unprecedented number of comments reflect all those who have stood in solidarity to support the efforts and leadership of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and the five sovereign tribal nations involved who led the way to protect the sacred sites and ancestral lands of the Bears Ears region.

“The announcement comes in the wake of the president’s executive order to review national monuments created since 1996. Sec. of the Interior Ryan Zinke opened a 60-day comment period on all national monuments, but inexplicably limited comments on Bears Ears to only 15 days. The U.S. Department of the Interior denied a request from Sen. Martin Heinrich to extend the public comment period to 60 days and hold a public meeting as part of the so-called “review” of Bears Ears.”

“Trump and Zinke need to listen to the American people for once instead of corporate polluters. The people have made it crystal clear that they stand with Bears Ears and in solidarity with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition,” said Kieran Suckling, the Center for Biological Diversity’s executive director. “They will not stand by while Trump and anti-public lands zealots plunder and pillage the country’s most stunning landscapes and cultural treasures for profits.”

“The total number of comments reflects submissions of supportive comments from members and supporters of dozens of organizations representing a broad array of interests. These comments have been uploaded to the regulations.gov comment docket DOI-2017-0002. Due to the way that regulations.gov tracks comments, the site counts a batch of comments as a single comment, regardless of whether it included 10,000 or more individual comments or signatures.

“The people have spoken—more than half a million strong—and 99 percent expect these magnificent lands to be held in the public trust for future generations,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “That’s a mandate to preserve monument protections for Bears Ears and all it means to Americans past, present and future. It’s a resounding call, also, for all of us to respect and collaborate with the Inter-Tribal Coalition.” –Sierra Club and EcoWatch (Continue: 685,000+ Send Comments in Support of Bears Ears National Monument.)

A Monumental Legacy | Obama’s National Monuments

GR:  National Monuments provide imperfect protection to water and wildlife, but they are better than leaving lands entirely under standard Bureau of Land Misuse policies. The new administration members are already talking about privatizing Indian reservations. They will probably try to open the monuments to their corporate friends too. Preserving monuments will be one more battle we face in 2017. But there are only thousands of them–we are millions.

Photo:  Browns Canyon National Monument, Colorado (Bob Wick, BLM)

“President Obama has accomplished a lot in eight years. Beyond reviving the economy and cutting unemployment, his legacy includes major environmental feats such as reducing air pollution, boosting clean energy and making the U.S. a global leader in fighting climate change.

“It also includes many smaller moves that add up to something pretty big: the creation and expansion of national monuments. These are federally protected areas that feature “objects of historic or scientific interest,” and can be established directly by Congress or the president.

“Obama has designated 26 national monuments during his tenure, more than any other president, and also substantially expanded three others.

“A haze of uncertainty now hangs over many of Obama’s executive orders, including those 29 national monuments. Congress has “clear authority” to abolish or shrink monuments, according to a 2016 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), and presidents can modify sites set aside by their predecessors. Still, the CRS adds, they may have trouble repealing them outright:

“No President has ever abolished or revoked a national monument proclamation, so the existence or scope of any such authority has not been tested in courts. However, some legal analyses since at least the 1930s have concluded that the Antiquities Act, by its terms, does not authorize the President to repeal proclamations, and that the President also lacks implied authority to do so.”

“To highlight what’s at stake, here are photos and facts about each of the 26 national monuments created by Obama — plus the three existing sites he expanded. Click through the images and scan the details for a reminder of why these places are worth protecting.” –Mother Nature News (Continue reading:  A monumental legacy | Obama’s national monuments are a big deal)

Legislative moves to give public lands to the states advance despite little evidence of public support

“All of the Western states except Montana now entertain bills to take the public lands from the United States and give, transfer or take them for the individual states. Some Republicans in Congress are trying to get the proposed redistribution of land going by means of the annual budget process.

“This is happening despite increased support by the general public for keeping the U.S. public lands safe for all Americans.”

Source: www.thewildlifenews.com

GR:  State lands always wind up for sale to the highest bidder. Giving the states ownership of our public lands guarantees that they will be developed for profit without regard for air, water, soil, wildlife, or human society.

Somebody Stole $19 Billion from U.S. Wildlife and Open Spaces

Arches National Park, Utah. (Photo: Jacob Frank/Getty Images)GR:  The U. S. Congress is willing to drop any protections that might threaten a developer’s opportunity to use the land. In Arizona, it appears that our state Game and Fish Department opposes national monuments because someday a developer might come up with a profitable use for the land.

strange behaviors

Arches National Park, Utah. (Photo: Jacob Frank/Getty Images) Arches National Park, Utah. (Photo: Jacob Frank/Getty Images)

My latest for Takepart:

Here’s a brilliant idea: Make oil and gas companies pay to conserve land for wildlife threatened by climate change. Crazy, right? But it’s already the law, and it has been for the last 50 years: In 1965, by a unanimous vote, Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund and declared that the government would spend $900 million a year to preserve open space, protect wildlife, and encourage outdoor recreation—all of it paid for with royalties from offshore oil and mineral extraction.

So why are our national parks falling to pieces? Why is it such a struggle to protect endangered species? Why is having someplace outdoors to play—someplace decent, I mean—a strange and dreamlike notion for most American children?

The sad reality is that Congress actually allocated only $306 million to LWCF in 2014…

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