Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Obama Unilaterally Making Swath of Dangerous Border Region a National Monument

A Western lawmaker urged President Obama from once again using the 1906 Antiquities Act to unilaterally designate national monuments, this time at the volatile U.S.-Mexico border. The White House announced that Wednesday Obama will host an event at the Interior Department to sign a proclamation establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in south-central New Mexico. “By establishing the monument, the President will permanently protect more than 496,000 acres to preserve the prehistoric, historic, and scientific values of the area for the benefit of all Americans,” the White House said. “A recent independent study found that a new national monument could generate $7.4 million in new economic activity annually from new visitors and business opportunities while preserving access for sportsmen, ranchers, and recreational users.” But Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) fired off a letter to Obama yesterday arguing that the monument lacks local support and could impede the Border Patrol and local law enforcement’s ability to conduct security operations. “Unresolved security gaps along the border and a recent violent attack of a U.S. National Park Service (NPS) employee at Chiracahua National Monument raise serious concerns about safety and ongoing violence along the border. In light of the unresolved criminal activity taking place on federal land along the border, I am asking the Administration to abandon any efforts to move forward with new national monument designations,” Bishop wrote. “Despite local opposition, interest groups and the Department are pushing a 600,000-acre national monument via the Antiquities Act and circumventing an open and transparent congressional process,” the congressman said. The Albuquerque Journal reported that a coalition of cattle ranchers and county sheriffs have been expressing vocal opposition to the plan that would swallow up 20 percent of Doña Ana County — nearly half a million acres. “It’s going to tie up a huge portion of land that is going to create an avenue of access for illegal activity,” Doña Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison said. “It’s already happening in Arizona. Why would we think it’s not going to happen here?”...more

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