March 11, 2010

Senators Want Timeout On Monuments

Crapo, Risch say collaboration should drive land use questions

Washington, D.C. - Locally-produced collaboration and consensus should drive decisions made about changes in federal land use, say Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch. Both Senators have written Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, asking him to discard a federal process of designating national monuments that too often utilizes a "one-size-fits-all" mentality that does not provide for local input. The letter comes as the Obama Administration contemplates plans to potentially designate as much as 13 million acres of public and private land as national monuments.

A copy of the Senators' letter is below:

Dear Secretary Salazar;

We write in response to recent news that the Department of the Interior (DOI) is considering identifying 14 sites as national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906, as well as land acquisitions in eight Western states. We urge you to reconsider this approach, as these types of Executive actions in Western states often provoke significant discord in the communities that they affect. Instead, we ask that the Department of Interior support an approach that we have long advocated, whereby multi-stakeholder collaborative efforts are the driving force behind major public land management projects.

Americans deserve to enjoy a variety of benefits from our nation's abundant land, including both recreational and commercial use. As such, community-based collaborative efforts have gained considerable support in recent years. To name just two highly successful examples, one need look no further than Idaho. In 2006, Idaho presented the U.S. Department of Agriculture with its roadless petition. The petition outlines the state's plan for management of 9.3 million acres of roadless areas within its 10 national forests and was the first of its kind in the country. Further, in March of last year, President Obama signed the Owyhee Public Land Management Act into law, which sought to bring a resolution to several complicated, longstanding public land and resource management issues in Owyhee County, Idaho. These efforts helped bring together a wide variety of disparate interests to forge solutions that few people thought possible. This model is gaining significant traction in other states, and we urge the Department of Interior to fully embrace the collaborative model to manage our public lands.

As you know, the designation of national monuments has been contentious for many years in the west. In fact, concerns over national monument designations and similar sweeping Executive actions have, in part, motivated coalitions of local stakeholders to undertake collaborative efforts to solve these contentious issues. Collaborative efforts have been undertaken across our state and throughout the West, and they are being utilized to address everything from public land conflicts to resource protection and species recovery.

One-Size-Fits-All approaches to public land management, mainly by directives from Washington, D.C. are not the right direction. Utilizing these contentious methods would only serve to foster resentment in western communities and eliminate the potential for collaborative public land management efforts. As such, we urge the Department to work with local and interested parties, who are typically better informed and directly affected by such area-specific decisions.

Sincerely,


Senator Mike Crapo
Senator Jim Risch