USSA: Administration Document Could Spell Trouble for Sportsmen
A leaked memo from the U.S. Department of the Interior reveals plans to set aside millions of acres of federal lands, currently open to a multitude of users, as new "National Monuments." Basically, these designations could be established by a stroke of President Obama's pen with no oversight.
The memo identifies approximately 13 million acres in nine western states for "National Monument" designation under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The Act allows the President to make these designations without Congressional approval or local input.
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA) is deeply concerned as prior Monument designations have caused trouble for hunters and wildlife conservation. For example, President Carter created millions of acres of National Park Service Monuments in Alaska which immediately closed the areas to sport hunting. It took a subsequent act of Congress to undo many of these hunting closures.
President Clinton also created Monuments at the end of his term. Wilderness activists have since blocked wildlife management projects in these areas arguing that conservation efforts are inconsistent with Monument purposes.
Although a Monument designation does not automatically limit hunting or other uses, experience has shown that this designation can have a negative impact on access and conservation efforts. USSA holds that any change in public land use should only occur after open discussion with stakeholders allowing them to voice their concerns, if any.
"President Obama campaigned on keeping government decisions transparent to the public and we ask that he honor that pledge by not making a decision on Monument designations without first hearing the opinion of America's sportsmen and other concerned citizens," said Rob Sexton, USSA vice president for government affairs. "The USSA will be watching closely and respond immediately if sportsmen and others are kept in the dark."