Feed on

Monumental Politics

I fancy myself a land conservationist/preservationist. You’d think I’d be celebrating the most recent three additions to the list of National Monuments in the U.S. You’d be wrong – and it pains me, sort of liking turning down a date with someone that would be quite fun and you know not good for you.

Real simple, in twog form (i.e. a short blog post):

  1. The Executive Branch simply selects this designation with the “stroke of a pen.” I am not much a fan of pen stroking to do anything except cutting red tape.The Antiquities Act, may in fact be, antiquated. It is solely intended to be used to bypass the legislative process.
  2. The creation of the Monuments does not mean they will be funded and maintained and “conserved forever” as the advertisements and cheerleading suggest. They are going to be added to a gargantuan list of properties that the Federal Government is already too strained, and too knowledge and incentive constrained, to manage well. This is politics to a T. It is really easy to stroke, umm, a pen, and celebrate publicly your commitment to protecting our nation’s most valuable heritage. It is quite another thing to have the resources and wherewithal to do it. It is well known that the National Park system and other conservation management agencies are struggling to take care of the vast portfolio under their discretion now. How does adding to this burden help any of them in any way? It is quite plausible that by adding to this portfolio, the overall level of conservation in the United States … has … fallen.

    Where are the creative plans to do conservation? Why not fund the protection in the form of block grants and delegate protection to the local or state conservation agencies? Or better yet, have local conservation organizations take easements to protect these areas with the support of the Federal government? Does Washington, DC really think it is better positioned to protect the Mojave Desert than the folks who live in and near the Mojave desert?

  3.  Finally, in all of the celebration about protecting the desert, again which I fundamentally agree with, there has been little said about the problems and costs to the local communities. I’d like to see it. I recall last summer when hiking in Baxter being struck by the large number of road signs around the (state) park condemning the idea that Baxter ever be turned into a National Park. It would be nice if folks stopped to think about why.

Leave a Reply