This West Is OUR West

A Chance to Review the Upper Missouri River Breaks Monument

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Chance to Review the Upper Missouri River Breaks Monument

The Department of Interior is undertaking a comprehensive review of all National Monument designations and expansions put in place since 1996.

Many say this means Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has provided an opportunity to correct the over-reaching Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument (UMRBNM) designated by President Clinton. 

On Jan. 17, 2001 — three days before he officially left office — President Bill Clinton set aside 377,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management-administered public lands in northcentral Montana with the stroke of his pen.

Clinton's 11th-hour executive order, authorized by the Antiquities Act of 1906, created the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

It also created an uproar.

The designation was cheered by conservationists who long sought to protect the unspoiled landscape, but opponents viewed it as a unilateral federal land grab that disregarded the rights and concerns of landowners inside and around the new national monument.

Just days before Clinton signed the order, the Montana Legislature overwhelmingly passed resolutions in the House and Senate opposing it, but to no avail.

Fast forward twenty-one years, to 2017. 

Organizations like the United Property Owners of Montana (UPOM) say Secretary Zinke has provided a tremendous opportunity for Montana to finally get right a National Monument that was done horribly wrong.  Your opinion matters!  DOI is collecting public comment on these monument designations.  The deadline for comments is July 10.  

CLICK HERE to submit written comments online to the Department of Interior.

Or send by mail to:

Monument Review

MS-1530

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street NW.

Washington, DC 20240. 

In any communication, be sure to reference the identifier "DOI-2017-0002".

UPOM encourages people to comment on Monument designations in general, and the Upper Missouri River Breaks Monument in particular.  In addition to this comment letter from UPOM, here are some talking points that they are sharing with their supporters:

•     National Monument designations that encompass private property have significant negative impacts on the constitutional rights of those landowners to own and use their property.

•     Monuments allow bureaucrats to intrude upon management decisions by private landowners, and complicate management for government landowners, like BLM.  That makes land conservation and development more difficult and leads to worse habitat for wildlife.

•     Monuments reduce access to public land.

•     Monuments become litigation magnets for environmental groups, who frequently challenge decisions not to their liking.

•     Monuments become a burden on the taxpayers in perpetuity.  America's parks and monuments have a multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog.

•     The UMRBNM was enacted with little public support—and much opposition—from Montanans.  Then-Secretary Babbitt refused to reveal the boundaries of the Monument prior to the designation.  It was an eleventh-hour decision by the Clinton administration imposed on Montanans.

•     The UMRBNM has had negative economic consequences for Central Montana and the landowners affected.  It has produced worse outcomes for wildlife and outdoor recreationalists and has had no discernible positive outcomes.

•     The UMRBNM boundaries extend as much as 36 miles from the river, encompassing an enormous amount of private land.  Prior to the monument designation, the Missouri River was protected by a federal Wild and Scenic River designation, which extended as much as 2 miles from the river, more than adequate for protection.  The Monument designation should be scaled back to follow those original Wild and Scenic River boundaries.

This is an important move by Secretary Zinke, but for him to make the right decisions on the Upper Missouri Monument and others, he needs to hear from us. 

The deadline to send in your comments is July 10, 2017.

by Northern Ag Network