Friday, November 11, 2016

Anti-monument adviser's legal strategy shot down by county attorneys

Jackson County's attorneys say a legal strategy proposed by an anti-monument consultant wouldn't succeed in court. James Carlson, a Kansas-based consultant who fights national monuments, had hoped to charge Jackson County $60,000 to try and stop a proposed expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument east of Ashland, but he went away empty-handed after a Thursday meeting with county commissioners. "I'm not here because of money. I'm here because I care about local government," Carlson told commissioners. Commissioner Doug Breidenthal said he paid about $1,500 out of his own pocket to fly in Carlson for the meeting. He said past anti-monument efforts have proven ineffective, and the county needs to try something new. "I'm tired of getting run over," Breidenthal said. But Commissioner Rick Dyer said the type of legal arguments put forth by Carlson have not succeeded in court. "It's a fight that's — in my opinion — futile," Dyer said. Commissioners left open the possibility they could work with Carlson in the future after they thoroughly review a strategy document he prepared for San Juan County commissioners in Utah. Commissioners there are fighting a proposed Bears Ears National Monument encompassing a mesa, mountains and archaeological sites. San Juan County is spending $53,000 for a report and lobbying help from Carlson and ranching rights proponent Angus McIntosh, the Salt Lake Tribune reported in late October. In the report, the consultants make the legal argument that presidents can't unilaterally create or expand national monuments with the stroke of a pen using the Antiquities Act. They say a public input process and lengthy environmental studies are first required under federal laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act, known as NEPA and FLPMA. Carlson said he believes his legal strategy could work because of modifications Congress made to the Antiquities Act in 2014. But according to a report this year by the Congressional Research Service, requirements for public input and environmental planning under FLPMA and NEPA don't apply to the actions of a president...more

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