Executive action pushes more of Agenda 21 on the west as Oregon finishes
by Pam Barker | TLB staff writer/analyst
Just a day after the militia standoff in Oregon was over this past week, Obama used his executive power to put more land in the west under federal control, this time almost doubling the amount of land formerly protected.
Of the 22 times Obama has used his prerogative to appropriate land, this declaration sees 1.8 million acres of the southern California desert designated as three national monuments to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The Mojave Trails national monument comprising 1.6 million acres of mountain ranges, sand dunes and lava flows; it is the largest section of land appropriated
Sand to Snow national monument of 154,00 acres, a region of biodiversity containing archaeological sites, protected bird species and native Indian rock carvings
Castle Mountains national monument, a wildlife corridor composed of almost 21,000 acres in the Mojave Desert
The government factsheet on this initiative, smelling strongly of Agenda 21 without saying as much, stresses the goals of ensuring young people in educational programs have access to these monuments, that ‘future generations’ have access to these lands, and that this endeavour works to protect us from the impacts of climate change:
In addition to permanently protecting incredible natural resources, wildlife habitat and unique historic and cultural sites, and providing recreational opportunities for a burgeoning region, the monuments will support climate resiliency in the region and further advance the President’s unprecedented work to address climate change … permanently protecting key wildlife corridors and providing plants and animals with the space and elevation range that they will need in order to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
In 2014, Obama also created a national monument of 370,000 square nautical miles of ocean that is now offlimits to all commercial fishing activity. Called the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, it became the world’s largest marine preserve. The stated goal is to preserve marine ecosystems from climate change.
The president’s executive power in this regard is derived from the Antiquities Act of 1906, the intention being to create national monuments as a way of protecting features of natural, cultural or scientific interest. It has been used over a hundred times since its inception.
The president can accept donations of land and is pretty much unrestricted in the choice of the land or the size of it to be reserved. The Supreme Court has always upheld presidential decisions in the use of this Act.
While it is for Congress to create national parks, national monuments are the exclusive domain of the president and usually become national parks in time.
The use of this Act is frequently controversial, however, especially in western states where the government owns around 580 million acres of land and more than a third of the land in 10 states. Ranchers4 have long been angered over the way the government can restrict or change the rules of land use. And Republicans generally object to the way important regional economic activity can be thwarted without any local input or consultation.
Just earlier this month, the Senate rejected an attempt by Republican senator Mike Lee to limit the president’s ability to name new national monuments in the absence of state or congressional approval. Expressing a typical Republican sentiment, Lee said the use of the act has resulted in “government-sponsored injustice and bureaucratic tyranny”.
An area in southeastern Utah comprising some 1.9 million acres had been proposed as a national monument for some time. Following the Senate’s rejection, a recent delegation from Utah has formally asked the president not to repeat the California situation in Utah:
In their letter to the president — signed by Sens. Orin Hatch and Mike Lee, and Reps. Bishop, Chaffetz, Stewart, and Mia Love — the delegation stated that “(F)ederal land-use policy has a major impact on the lives of those residing within and near federal lands. We believe the wisest land-use decisions are made with community involvement and local support. This principle is true whether skyscrapers or sagebrush surround the community.
“Use of the Antiquities Act within will be met with fierce local opposition and will further polarize federal land-use discussions for years, if not decades. We believe the wisest land-use decisions are made with community involvement and local support. This principle is true whether skyscrapers or sagebrush surround a community. Use of the Antiquities Act within will be met with fierce local opposition and will further polarize federal land-use discussions for years, if not decades.”
Political agenda to buy land
Sen. Diane Feinstein
The most recent move to appropriate land comes from a highly concerted, long-term effort by Diane Feinstein who, according to the LA Times, urged Obama to use his executive power in an effort to bypass Congress [emphasis mine]:
Two bills introduced by Feinstein over the past six years languished in Congress amid conflicts among off-roaders, hunters, environmentalists, and mining and renewable-energy interests. Unable to gain momentum on her California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act again this year, Feinstein decided to ask Obama to act unilaterally by invoking the Antiquities Act to create the monuments.
Feinstein is credited for her work on this initiative on the White House factsheet.
So where does this land come from? This is an important question. Land designated as a national monument can come from private donors and indeed, that seems to be the case here. Writes Louis Sahagun for the LA Times [emphasis mine]:
Feinstein was encouraged to seek presidential action by conservation groups including The Wildlands Conservancy, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Mojave Desert Lands Trust and Friends of the Desert Mountains.
Much of the land under consideration was purchased more than a decade ago by private citizens and conservation organizations, then donated to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in anticipation that they would eventually come under protection of national monument status.
“We’re among the California desert lovers who raised the funds to buy a big chunk of these lands,” said David Myers, executive director of The Wildlands Conservancy. “So hats off to Senator Feinstein for trying to honor commitments that are now decades old.”
All of the groups named in this article are non-profit conservation groups who endorsed Feinstein, and it was conservation organizations in addition to private individuals who donated money for the purchase of this land (or the land itself) prior to handing it over to the federal government. That would obviously require donors with enormously deep pockets such as major philanthropists or corporations. Many of these groups are long-established and heavily sponsored although it is hard to find such evidence on their websites.
In her book, Behind the Green Mask : U.N. Agenda 21, Rosa Koire explains how non-profit environmental groups and corporations are, in fact, the implementation arm of Agenda 21 at the local level. They function to advise local government on adoption of Agenda 21 initiatives yet are non-elected, thus accountable to no-one.
To what extent are these powerful private interests behind Feinstein pushing Obama to use his executive power? She has something of a track record on using federal monies and contracts to favor her husband’s interests, for example. One is left to wonder.
About the author:
Pam Barker is a TLB staff writer/analyst. She has an extensive background in the educational system of several countries at the college and university level as a teacher and administrator.