In early December of 2017, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) denounced President Trump’s decision to drastically reduce and dismantle two national monuments in Utah that encompass vast expanses of important fish and wildlife habitat. The New York Chapter of BHA concurs with our national office in Montana, and is asking New York sportsmen and sportswomen to raise their voices in opposition.
The massive cuts to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments impact millions of acres and open areas prized by hunters, anglers, and others who recreate outdoors to industrial development. These actions conclude a months-long review by the Department of the Interior, during which millions of public comments reiterated citizens’ strong support for national monuments. During the review process, the DOI received more than 2.8 million comments that were in favor of leaving the monuments alone, yet they chose a path that opposed these views.
Why should New York hunters and anglers should care about this decision?
The proposed action by the DOI comprises the single largest rollback of protected public lands in the nation’s history, and could undermine the integrity of this long-standing conservation tool across the entire country – from Albany to Anchorage. BHA President Land Tawney stated that: “An attack on one monument is an attack on them all and sets a precedent that none are safe, both existing and future.” Whether you live in New York or Utah, we are all public landowners, and together, we own nearly 640 million acres of federal lands that are available for recreation and managed for multiple use. When done right, the designation of national monuments can be a critical tool to safeguard areas of cultural and ecological importance, while also maintaining hunting and fishing access.
Have there been past presidential changes to monument boundaries?
While there were minor changes made by two Presidents decades ago, these decisions occurred prior to the adoption of the Federal Land Management Planning Act in 1976, which explicitly said Congress reserved for itself the power “to modify or revoke withdrawals for national monuments.” Since this time no president has attempted to reduce the size of a national monument. The boundary changes to national monuments that presidents made before 1976 were never challenged – or upheld – in court, and thus there is no precedent for acreage reductions.
What will happen with the public lands that were previously designated as monuments?
Regulations that currently place limits on new development, such as energy and roads will be lost, though the land will remain publicly held and federally managed by the BLM (in the case of the Utah monuments).
How do monument designations impact hunting and fishing access?
Hunting and fishing access has remained largely unchanged in all of the national monuments that were reviewed in 2017. While there are limitations on hunting and fishing access in national monuments administered by the National Park Service, all of the national monuments that were under official review currently allow recreational hunting and fishing.
How do Bear’s Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante fit the criteria of the Antiquities Act?
The DOI has claimed that the Antiquities Act was not meant to protect large landscapes because of the following language: “…shall be contained to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” It’s important to note, however, that New York’s own Theodore Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to protect 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon from mining before it became a National Park.
What is Your New York Chapter Doing to Help?
The New York Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers is joining other state chapters in encouraging their state Representatives to reject attempts to undermine the integrity of the Antiquities Act or efforts to strip monument protections from America’s most important landscapes. You can help by joining and supporting BHA and its partner organizations.
New York Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
“The sportsmen’s voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife” www.backcountryhunters.org