Interior secretary: I say it’s about time to go all executive-action up on this landgrab

posted at 5:31 pm on November 12, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

I only laugh to keep from weeping. The LA Times reports:

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she will recommend that President Obama act alone if necessary to create new national monuments and sidestep a gridlocked Congress that has failed to address dozens of public lands bills.

Jewell said the logjam on Capitol Hill has created a conservation backlog, and she warned that the Obama administration would not “hold its breath forever” waiting for lawmakers to act.

“The president will not hesitate,” Jewell said in an interview in San Francisco last week. “I can tell you that there are places that are ripe for setting aside, with a tremendous groundswell of public support.”

Congress has not added any acreage to the national park or wilderness systems since 2010. Jewell blamed ramped-up rhetoric in Washington for the impasse.

Yes, and thank goodness for that. I would point out to Secretary Jewell that the “logjam on Capitol Hill” is not what has created a “conservation backlog” across the American landscape. The conservation backlog is what has created a “conservation backlog.” The Department of Interior is in charge of most of the full third of the surface area of the United States that the federal government already keeps under its control, and it has quite enough trouble managing that effectively.

For FY2010, Interior made a rough estimate of a deferred maintenance backlog of ‘somewhere between’ $13 billion and $19 billion; in FY2012, the top ten most visited national parks alone had a backlog of $2.6 billion. All of this deferred maintenance often results in environmental degradations, oversights, and inefficiencies, and Secretary Jewell’s solution to these many problems already right under her nose is to… add more land? Gee, great idea.

From where exactly is the money for all of this additional stewardship supposed to come? Maybe, instead of allocating hundreds of millions of dollars every year for the acquisition of new lands (via the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which gets most of its cash from oil-and-gas revenues), the government should devote some of this money to the better maintenance and operation of the lands it already owns, no?

Perhaps one of the worst aspects of the constantly metastasizing government estate is that it allows the federal bureaucracy to impose whatever top-down land-use policies are in vogue in Washington and micromanage huge swaths of the American landscape, with sometimes devastating unintended consequences (hint: the ultra-ravaging wildfires of the past few years are the result of neither climate change nor coincidence, as much as big-government environmentalists might want you to think otherwise) and/or major opportunity costs (case in point: the energy industry in Nevada).

Politicians just love to stand in front of park and monument grand openings in their districts and states, and are constantly trying to sneak them in to bigger bills; creating a federal park is a great opportunity for a cool photo op and a chance to tout how much said politicians cares about “conservation” or “the environment” or “cultural heritage.” The LA Times piece points to some of the latest instances of unfortunate phenomenon:

Among the public events on Jewell’s schedule was a visit to the 1,255-acre Stornetta Public Lands site on the Mendocino County coast, north of Point Arena. Several members of the California congressional delegation have proposed adding the site to the California Coastal National Monument.

It’s one of many pending federal bills that would conserve land in California. One bill would expand the boundary of Yosemite National Park, and another would create a national monument in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has proposed sweeping legislation that would add thousands of acres to Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks and the Mojave National Preserve, protect 74 miles of waterways as wild and scenic rivers, designate 248,000 acres as wilderness and create the Sand to Snow National Monument running from the floor of the Coachella Valley to the peak of Mt. San Gorgonio.

But those are some mighty loose definitions of “conserve” and “protect,” if you ask me, because once the new land is added to the national network, you suddenly have an even bigger federal estate and even less money to distribute for mindful stewardship. Meanwhile, the federal government too often resists selling or leasing its lands to productive, private uses, including private-public park partnerships that can fully fund themselves minus the prohibitive bureaucracy, as well as generate revenue for the federal government. This is not rocket science.

Secretary Jewell is evidently threatening to recommend to President Obama that he make use of the  Antiquities Act of 1906 to take control of still more land via executive order, but the American landscape could be much better off if faux-conservationists would take to heart that big government isn’t the answer for everything, and that in fact, it’s the answer for relatively few things.


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After watching the Nationalsozialismus Park Service in action during the shutdown, I don’t think we need anymore parks. In fact, I think states should move to reclaim that which the Federal government has appropriated.

Resist We Much on November 12, 2013 at 5:36 PM

The stupid is strong in this one….

rgranger on November 12, 2013 at 5:37 PM

If the GOP ever elects another President, which is unlikely since they seem to prefer statists, he should sell off at least half of these assets. Might even help pay the debt down to a more manageable level.

besser tot als rot on November 12, 2013 at 5:37 PM

How about a one mile strip along the southern border. We could call it a human-free zone and drone all who dare enter. Other than that keep your grubby preservationist paws off of our land, or haven’t you decimated enough forests yet.

antipc on November 12, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Agenda 21. New World Order.

Murphy9 on November 12, 2013 at 5:39 PM

And they call us fascists… hmm.

bernzright777 on November 12, 2013 at 5:39 PM

How about a one mile strip along the southern border. We could call it a human-free zone and drone all who dare enter. Other than that keep your grubby preservationist paws off of our land, or haven’t you decimated enough forests yet.

antipc on November 12, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Cobalt Zone

Murphy9 on November 12, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Jewell said the logjam on Capitol Hill has created a conservation backlog

Another made up term to rationalize a power grab.
Is that term supposed to imply some kind of “crisis” that demands government action in order to save the nation from something or other??

These people live in their own made up world and have their own made up language. The problem is that we have to pay for their ideological circus rides and popcorn.

Mimzey on November 12, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Deliver us from fools and Democrats.
And, liberal Republicans.

avagreen on November 12, 2013 at 5:43 PM

This insufferable woman should be flogged.

Mason on November 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Fortunately, the next president can rescind one EO with another EO. Unfortunately, too many Republicans are too stupid to do it. See minimum wage for an example.

Ward Cleaver on November 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Obama is running around nationalizing the country while RINOs are whining.

faraway on November 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

After watching the Nationalsozialismus Park Service in action during the shutdown, I don’t think we need anymore parks. In fact, I think states should move to reclaim that which the Federal government has appropriated.

Resist We Much on November 12, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Ditto.

Add to that the fact that expanding government parks and monuments takes the land out of private hands and off the tax rolls and simultaneously increases the need for government services.

So you’ve taken away assets and replaced them with liabilities. Sounds like a great idea!

Socratease on November 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Agenda 21. New World Order.

Murphy9 on November 12, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Funny that gang-green here in CA attempt to put the Agenda 21 policies in place but never heard of Agenda 21.

antipc on November 12, 2013 at 5:45 PM

I say evict everyone from San Francisco Malibu and return the land to its natural state.

Wassat? What? You sensitive lefties didn’t mean YOU should have to give anything up? Oh. Sorry.

Bishop on November 12, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Land doesn’t belong to the damn federal government. States need to put their damn foot down. They don’t need corrupts bureaucrats telling them how to mangage their land.

darwin on November 12, 2013 at 5:46 PM

These people live in their own made up world and have their own made up language. The problem is that we have to pay for their ideological circus rides and popcorn.
Mimzey on November 12, 2013 at 5:42 PM

It’s obvious they are from another universe. I think you’ve hit on something.

avagreen on November 12, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Time for a really big yard sale where Interior actually sells yards! The Antiquities Act is being abused by the Executive Branch and Congress should cut their funding off starting with the National Park Service thugs.

Happy Nomad on November 12, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Evict the communists from state lands.

darwin on November 12, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Come on Texas! Show the other 49 how to say “F** you!” :)

ThePrez on November 12, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Ward Cleaver on November 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

I’d love to see a president with the balls to rescind Kennedy’s EO that established the right to establish public sector unions.
De-certify them and hire new people.

Mimzey on November 12, 2013 at 5:48 PM

I say evict everyone from San Francisco Malibu and return the land to its natural state.

Wassat? What? You sensitive lefties didn’t mean YOU should have to give anything up? Oh. Sorry.

Bishop on November 12, 2013 at 5:45 PM

I object! You forgot Santa Barbara. We should keep a few of the liberals there as an animal park and cautionary tale for future generations.

Happy Nomad on November 12, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Contact your State legislators about how bad a steward the federal government is of lands and that the State needs to rescind all grants of land to the federal government and declare eminent domain on any other public lands. The federal government is not a good steward of public lands including parks and recreation areas.

ajacksonian on November 12, 2013 at 5:51 PM

ThePrez on November 12, 2013 at 5:48 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-cFtSPIF4Q

Socratease on November 12, 2013 at 5:57 PM

The Federal Gov. should not control any land other than Washington D.C. (10 square miles only), military and Coast Guard bases. All other lands should be held by private persons or the State which within the land is located.

oldbearak on November 12, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Fortunately, the next president can rescind one EO with another EO. Unfortunately, too many Republicans are too stupid to do it. See minimum wage for an example.

Ward Cleaver on November 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Which raise an interesting point. If a president can create buy (confiscate) land and create national parks by EO, couldn’t another president sell off national parks by EO?

CJ on November 12, 2013 at 6:03 PM

The NPS is the definition of mission creep. They can’t properly act as custodians of what they already have.

Blake on November 12, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Jewell obviously believes the federal government should own or control everything. Private citizens are obviously too stupid to be good stewards of their land. Since it’s a BIG country, only a BIG GOVERNMENT can do it… just like that ZeroCare thing.

Marcola on November 12, 2013 at 6:07 PM

True story – I know a guy that is a pretty decent fellow on all accounts except…he can’t abide all the open land in Texas. He is from Ohio and is a middle school teacher in the public school system here in Houston, He believes no one should own “too much” land and the open acreage should be available to the public for camping and recreation.

He is among a large group of acquaintances that are public school teachers. Two of them are my neighbors. I can be at a house party full of them and when they get on a parent/kid screed and a non-teacher like me walks up they turn silent. I must admit as a group they do have some strange tendencies.

DanMan on November 12, 2013 at 6:11 PM

but the American landscape could be much better off if faux-conservationists would take to heart that big government isn’t the answer for everything, and that in fact, it’s the answer for relatively few things.

Wishful thinking…this isn’t going to happen, so it gravitates to war.

right2bright on November 12, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Secretary Jewell is evidently threatening to recommend to President Obama that he make use of the Antiquities Act of 1906 to take control of still more land via executive order, but the American landscape could be much better off if faux-conservationists would take to heart that big government isn’t the answer for everything, and that in fact, it’s the answer for relatively few things.

My, what a great big IF you have there…..

If anything, the federal government should be selling land to the public, much like the old Homestead acts.

So, when the federal government decides to “expand” their land, are they really paying the people who already own that land a fair price, or are they just deciding how much it’s worth and paying based on their own opinion?

There Goes the Neighborhood on November 12, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Maybe Sally Jewell should visit the Angeles National Forest.

It has become a veritable cesspool. Its once lovely trout streams are now choked with dirty baby diapers, empty Dorito bags, discarded aluminum cans, and motley dams made of hundreds of 2 liter containers. It is a favorite destination of undocumented latinos who never learned the first thing about not littering. (see any picture of Santa Maria Bay in Acapulco)

A clever conservationist once suggested to the Forest officials that all park visitors pay a $3 deposit and be given a black trash bag upon entering. Upon leaving, they could get their deposit back by handing in a filled trashbag. See, the park could get cleaned the cheap and easy way, right? Nooooooo, the Feds refused, saying park entry should be free. Soooo, to this day, the Angeles National Forest still looks and smells like a toxic waste site. Go figure.

Hey Sally, before you go after new land to lay waste, clean this crap up!
It’s a travesty that these once beautiful areas have been left to rot for no good reason except the moronic, greedy Feds are in charge.

marybel on November 12, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Let’s face it, this nonsense can go on as long as the Republican party is complacent, compliant and act as an accessory. If this happened in an Republican administration there would be hell to pay and impeachment would be the headlines in the NYT.

Pardonme on November 12, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Thet should be “greedy for power Feds are in charge.”

marybel on November 12, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Let’s face it, this nonsense can go on as long as the Republican party is complacent, compliant and act as an accessory. If this happened in an Republican administration there would be hell to pay and impeachment would be the headlines in the NYT.

Pardonme on November 12, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Even in a Republican administration, the media wouldn’t bother to report it. They’re too simplistic to perceive that adding parks and land isn’t always a good thing.

Both sides do it. The Democrats are just worse about it than the Republicans.

There Goes the Neighborhood on November 12, 2013 at 6:19 PM

I think it’s about time to go all Executive Action and get that nasty old bat a hair cut.

Jesus….

BigWyo on November 12, 2013 at 6:20 PM

“…and sidestep a gridlocked Congress that has failed to address dozens of public lands bills.”

Well, it’s not like they’ve been preoccupied with other business or anything…

I despise this administration.

locomotivebreath1901 on November 12, 2013 at 6:20 PM

That damn legislature! They just get in the way of an effective executive!

You know what Sally Jewel would like? She’d like is to be more like China, where Xi Jinping gets to make decisions without worrying about what “the people” might think. She probably would like to just send “the people” to labor camps if they get too loud and in the way of effective leadership.

MTF on November 12, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Interior secretary: I say it’s about time to go all executive-action up on this landgrab.

Simple, the U.S. Government must provide additional collateral for our debt-holders to know we are serious about handing over assets in the event of default.

We are being robbed blind by the very political ruling class that provides us with “entitlements”.

We’re going to be literal slaves if this continues.

PappyD61 on November 12, 2013 at 6:45 PM

One big reservation, and a dirty blanket.

wolly4321 on November 12, 2013 at 6:47 PM

“…and sidestep a gridlocked Congress that has failed to address dozens of public lands bills.”

Well, it’s not like they’ve been preoccupied with other business or anything…

I despise this administration.

locomotivebreath1901 on November 12, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Most of the gridlock in Congress is because of Dingy Harry.

slickwillie2001 on November 12, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Venezuela?

USA?

Mhhhh

Schadenfreude on November 12, 2013 at 7:17 PM

States need to start taking steps to retake their land from the Fed. The very idea of the Fed owning land in the states is abhorrent.

petefrt on November 12, 2013 at 7:22 PM

Simple, the U.S. Government must provide additional collateral for our debt-holders to know we are serious about handing over assets in the event of default.

We are being robbed blind by the very political ruling class that provides us with “entitlements”.

We’re going to be literal slaves if this continues.

PappyD61 on November 12, 2013 at 6:45 PM

AND

All the investors who purchased land adjacent to these “monuments” are waiting for their property values to rise and roads and utilities to be constructed.

KenInIL on November 12, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Maybe I could corner the market on “Barrycades”. Imagine all the new places they will have to close in February.

2Tru2Tru on November 12, 2013 at 8:33 PM

The perpetual problem which Dept of Interior has long been the funding for maintenance, and not capital required to purchase land.

I can tell you horror stories of how Federal Wildlife Refuges have fallen into severe disrepair and caused damage to private land abutting them.

Kermit on November 12, 2013 at 8:36 PM

I was not aware that the Socialist Dems believed in the hereafter but they are clearly here after all they can get.

ghostwalker1 on November 12, 2013 at 9:04 PM

What do they say about effeminate guys who surround themselves with butch women?

Jaibones on November 12, 2013 at 10:56 PM

Or how about “Butch Sally and the Moonbat Kid”?

Jaibones on November 12, 2013 at 10:58 PM

she warned that the Obama administration would not “hold its breath forever” waiting for lawmakers to act.

Um I’m sorry but lawmakers not acting is a perfectly legitimate position to take. The administration can pound sand if they don’t like it.

zerostar33 on November 12, 2013 at 11:26 PM

In 2012, the governor of Utah signed a bill that demands federal land be returned to state control. We are working on the same type of legislation here in New Mexico (41% of our land is owned by the feds and costing the state half a BILLION dollars in lost revenue each year). WE want our land back!

StarLady on November 12, 2013 at 11:49 PM

She’s just another in a long line of glittering jewels of you know what in the fed bureaucracy. The only thing she left out that would have really tipped the scale in her favor was that this could create jobs.

Kissmygrits on November 13, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she will recommend that President Obama act alone if necessary to create new national monuments and sidestep a gridlocked Congress that has failed to address dozens of public lands bills.

Statues of dear leader, perhaps?!

Sterling Holobyte on November 13, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Overlay proposed landgrabs with resource maps, topography, waterways.

Resources that cannot then be privately gleaned.

Land that crosses strategic future transportation and pipeline locations. Easier to cut off movement of private individuals.

Water sources that will be federally controlled.

They cannot own this stuff. We have to promote the constitutionally-minded judiciary, for one thing, and promote sale of land as a way to fund more appropriate federal holdings.

winoceros on November 13, 2013 at 3:48 PM