Public Lands

Save Our National Monuments


July 10, 2017 - Overlooking the 702,000 acre Basin and Range National Monument from 8,606 ft. Timber Mountain, Seaman Range, Nevada. Will monument designation be removed? Will a train transporting high level nuclear waste be built though the monument lands if the status changes? You can support the monuments here:

Federal Government Seeks Input on How to Gut National Environmental Policy Act Reviews

July 4, 2017 - Our public lands are at an even greater tunring point now, with the administration seeking to "streamline" environmental laws and reviews of development projects. Demand a longer review period--two weeks is too short for such a gigantic potential change.

Announcements received July 3 read: "The President and Secretary of the Interior Zinke have asked the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to take a new, in-depth look into our land use planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes."

A very short 21-day comment period, beginning on July 3, 2017 and ending on July 24, 2017, opens during in which you can "submit your ideas specific to how we can make the BLM’s planning procedures and environmental reviews timelier and less costly, as well as responsive to local needs. This streamlining effort will help shape how we move forward. You can submit your input by going to this link:" In other words, how to lessen public input in environmental reviews so that corporate interests may develop our public lands fater and more easily.

Past efforts to shorten the NEPA are partly at fault, we beleive, in the push to streamline energy projects of all kinds. Precedents set by one administration can easily be used by the next administration, no matter how different their policies. The big lesson is to never compromise the laws that we have, no matter how tempting it is. Keeping what we have gives us tools we may need in the future. It was a mistake to promote any streamlining.

This should be a lesson for environmentalists who promoted the streamlining of large-scale renewable energy on public lands during the last administration. Many large project reviews were "streamlined". Fast forward to the present where the Trump Administration shows very little pride in our public treasures, but will use this streamlining template to open up the whole west to multiple kinds of development. They are taking the "public" out of "public lands".

Streamlining Environmental Review on Public Lands

The Google Document presented by the Department of Interior states:

The BLM is working to identify discrete actions that can be taken to improve the NEPA and planning processes. The Bureau is specifically looking for improvements in the following six focus areas. To be most helpful, please submit succinct and unique ideas relevant to each of these six focus areas, using the fields on the following pages (please use one field for each discrete idea).

A. Focused Analysis: How can the BLM reduce duplicative and disproportionate analyses?

B. User-friendly Planning: How can the BLM help state and local governments, tribal partners, and other stakeholders understand and participate in the planning process?

C. Transparency: How can the BLM foster greater transparency in the NEPA process?

D. Being Good Neighbors: How can the BLM build trust and better integrate the needs of state and local governments, tribal partners, and other stakeholders?

E. Reducing Litigation: How can the BLM create legally defensible documents and avoid the delays associated with legal challenges?

F. "Right-sized" Environmental Analysis: How can the BLM more closely match the level of NEPA analysis to the scale of the action being analyzed?

Recommended solutions may include changes to BLM policy (e.g., Bureau manuals, handbooks, etc.); changes to regulations; and/or changes to laws.

You are welcome to submit multiple forms if you have more than four recommended solutions for a topic.

The BLM will consider the input you provide as the Bureau identifies potential solutions for improving the planning and NEPA processes. However, please note that this is not an official comment period; the BLM will not be providing responses back to you on the input you submit.

DOI Privacy Policy:

The BLM is interested in soliciting public input about ways to streamline the Bureau's planning and NEPA processes. This request constitutes a general solicitation of comments and does not seek information about commenters, other than that necessary for self-identification. Therefore it is not subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501-3521. (Please refer to implementing regulations at 5 CFR 1320.3(h)(4)).

Saving Our National Monuments: Comment Period to Open


^The Superbloom this April in the Temblor Range, Carrizo Plain National Monument. Hillside daisy (Monolopia lanceolata) and phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) make large patches of color that brought many tourists to wonder at the normally arid grassland in the South Coast Range of California. These areas should continue to be protected as National Monuments. (Photo: Laura Cunningham)

May 11, 2017 - The Office of the Secretary of Interior posted the rather ominously titled press release today:
Interior Department Releases List of Monuments Under Review, Announces First-Ever Formal Public Comment Period for Antiquities Act Monuments.

The press release states: "The Department of the Interior today announced the first ever formal public comment period for members of the public to officially weigh in on monument designations under the Antiquities Act of 1906, and the Department released a list of monuments under review under the President’s Executive Order 13792, issued April 26, 2017. A public comment period is not required for monument designations under the Antiquities Act; however, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and President Trump both strongly believe that local input is a critical component of federal land management.

"Comments may be submitted online after May 12 at by entering 'DOI-2017-0002' in the Search bar and clicking 'Search,' or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.

"DATES: The Department will shortly publish a notice in the Federal Register officially opening the public comment period. Written comments relating to the Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted within 15 days of publication of that notice. Written comments relating to all other designations subject to Executive Order 13792 must be submitted within 60 days of that date."

National Monuments being reviewed include the following:

Basin and Range (Nevada) 2015 -703,585 acres
Bears Ears (Utah) 2016 - 1,353,000 acres
Berryessa Snow Mountain (California) 2015- 330,780 acres
Canyons of the Ancients (Colorado) 2000 - 175,160 acres
Carrizo Plain (California) 2001- 204,107 acres
Cascade Siskiyou (Oregon) 2000/ expanded in 2017 - 100,000 acres
Craters of the Moon (Idaho) 1924/expanded in 2000 - 737,525 acres
Giant Sequoia (California) 2000 - 327,760 acres
Gold Butte (Nevada) 2016 - 296,937 acres
Grand Canyon-Parashant (Arizona) 2000 - 1,014,000 acres
Grand Staircase-Escalante (Utah) 1996 - 1,700,000 acres
Hanford Reach (Washington) 2000 - 194,450.93 acres
Ironwood Forest (Arizona) 2000 - 128,917 acres
Mojave Trails (California) 2016 - 1,600,000 acres
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (New Mexico) 2014 - 496,330 acres
Rio Grande del Norte (New Mexico) 2013 - 242,555 acres
Sand to Snow (California) 2016 - 154,000 acres
San Gabriel Mountains (California) 2014 - 346,177 acres
Sonoran Desert (Arizona) 2001 - 486,149 acres
Upper Missouri River Breaks (Montana) 2001 - 377,346 acres
Vermilion Cliffs (Arizon)a 2000 - 279,568 acres


Katahadin Woods and Waters (Maine) 2016 -87,563 acres

Marine National Monuments are also being reviewed. We will shortly have sample letters to send to Congress and the Interior Secretary to request these amazing places continue to be protected.

Our Letter to the Interior Secretary

To: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street Northwest
Washington DC 20240

Subject: Please Do NOT Remove the Antiquities Act and Please Do NOT Remove our National Monuments!

Dear Mr. Zinke,

Basin and Range Watch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit working to conserve the deserts of Nevada and California and to educate the public about the diversity of life, culture, and history of the ecosystems and wild lands of the desert.

The Antiquities Act is over 100 years old. It has long been an effective conservation tool to help preserve the recreational, conservation and economic values of the west. The Antiquities Act (16 U.S.C. 431-433) was the first United States law to provide general protection for any general kind of cultural or natural resource. It established the first national historic preservation policy for the United States (Lee 1970:1 ff.) Section 2 of the statute gives the President the authority to set aside for protection "...historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States..." These protected areas were then designated as "national monuments" and the federal agencies assigned to oversee them were required to afford proper care and management of the resources.

Public lands bring over 6 billion dollars annually to the west. People do love their national monuments.
We are residents of Nevada in which two of these monuments were created. We can say that since the Basin and Range National Monument was created, that several people who follow our network have inquired about the location and have asked up where there are good camping and hiking locations within the new monument. This indicates an increase in visitation which also indicates that people are spending the money in local communities to access the new monument.

Basin and Range National Monument protects art and cultural sites, biological diversity, scenic vistas and the hydrology of the area.

The Gold Butte region has been popular for many years, but the National Monument status will bring in the same crowds that visit the Utah national parks which bring tens of millions of tourist dollars to local communities each year. The Gold Butte region was seeing an increase in visitation anyway. Designation of the area as a National Monument makes sense to protect the biological, visual and cultural resources of the region.
Designation of the Mojave Trails National Monument in California has helped bring more recognition to the fragile beauty of the California Desert. The important role of national monuments in preserving of open spaces, while maintaining access for diverse groups of people, is shown by this popular designation. The monument is over one million acres in size and was met with minimal opposition. The monument has increased visitation to the area and this has helped the economy of local communities like Needles, Barstow, Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree. The Mojave Trails National Monument allows Southern California to maintain its beauty while it has one of the largest populations in the country.

National Parks, National Monuments, and the Antiquities Act are American ideas and as Americans, we are proud of these ideas. This is not a partisan subject. Many groups of people love their monuments. Aside from having great economic benefits, these areas preserve large tracts of land – some near urban areas – that allow us to live sustainably with our natural world. They have often been called “America’s Best Idea” and we have to agree with this.

Please do not remove, downsize, develop or do anything to compromise the beauty and integrity of our National Monuments. Please maintain the Antiquities Act.

Public Lands Attacks and Bad Bills From Congress

^Castle Mountains National Monument in the California Desert.

April 7, 2017 - Congress has been busy crafting bills that will forever take you access away from your public lands.  Many politicians have long wanted to sell off your public lands to the highest bidder. Public lands are treasured by a diversity of Americans who use them for hiking, hunting, fishing, recreation and bring economic benefits to western communities. The National Wildlife Federation determined that Public lands recreation brings 6.5 billion dollars to the US economy each year.

Here are 6 bills that would be destructive to public lands:

Senator Jim Risch R Idaho introduced S. 273 – Greater Sage –Grouse Protection and Recovery Act of 2017, that would give the states full authority over state and federal plans to conserve the sage- grouse. The bill would pave the way to transfer federal lands to states. This is not a conservation plan. It is a front.

Representative Jason Chaffetz R Utah introduced H.R. 622 - the Local Enforcement of Local Lands Act, a surprisingly irresponsible attempt to keep federal law enforcement off of federal lands. This could easily result in compromised safety of public lands users and even endanger lives. As you may remember, Chaffetz introduced H.R. 621 which would have put 3 million acres of your public lands up for sale. The bill was so unpopular that Cheffetz actually withdrew it and he was booed at town hall meetings.

Representative Don Young R of Alaska introduced H.R. 232, which would set aside 2 million acres of National Forest Land for timber production only. This would include all of the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania.

Representative Paul Gosar R of Arizona introduced H.R. 825, The Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act. The bill would streamline approval of renewable energy projects that were pre-reviewed. The bill would prioritize approval of renewable energy with no additional public review. Public lands do not need to be energy sacrifice zones. Streamlining environmental reviews sets dangerous precedents. We oppose this.

Representative Mark Amodei R of Nevada has introduced the Small Tract Conveyance Act (H.R. 1106) which allows the sale of some public lands in Nevada.

Amodei also introduced the Nevada Land Sovereignty Act (H.R. 243), which would prevent new National Monuments from being established in Nevada even though tourism is a big economic benefit to the state.


Please find your Senator or Congressional Representative here:

Sample Letter:

Dear ___

Please oppose the following bills that attack our precious public lands: S. 273 which would set up federal land transfers to states using the Sage-Grouse. H.R. 622 would endangered public land users by removing all federal law enforcement from these lands. H.R. 232 would set aside 2 million acres of National Forest Land for timber production. H.R. 1106 would sell public lands in Nevada. H.R. 2.4.3 would prevent new national monuments from being established in Nevada.

Public lands are cherished by a large diversity of user groups. Hikers, recreationists, hunters, anglers and a variety of other people use these lands on a regular basis and they generate 6.5 billion dollars of revenue to western communities. It is counterproductive and unpopular for politicians to try to quietly sell them off or develop them for special interest. Please maintain our public lands for future generations.

Thanks you,

Sincerely (Your name)


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