Saturday, February 20, 2010

Federal-local tensions in the West

Read the story in today's New York Times, which suggests that "monument," as in "national monument" is a fighting word in the West. An excerpt from Kirk Johnson's story follows in which he quotes politicians from states who would be affected by National Monument designations that are under highly preliminary consideration as such. The "1996 stroke of the pen reference" is to Clinton's designation of Grand Staircase Escalante as a National Monument:

“Given the lingering frustration felt by many Utahns, following the 1996 ‘stroke of the pen’ monument designation, it is totally inappropriate for this federal agency to even have preliminary discussions without involving the stakeholders on the ground,” said Representative Jim Matheson, Democrat of Utah, a state that had two of the possible new monuments on the list, the San Rafael Swell and Cedar Mesa.

In Montana, an area of unplowed grassland called the Northern Prairie was listed on the Interior Department memorandum, discussed as a possible home for a new national bison range. But the state’s representative at large, Denny Rehberg, a Republican, said in a statement, “The Antiquities Act was never intended as an end-run around the will of the people nor as a land-grab device for East Coast politicians.”

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