The federal government owns almost a third of the surface area of the United States despite the fact that we lack the collective resources, funding, and personnel to attentively steward all of these parks and wilderness areas and that the government then conveniently gets to impose its reliably anti-rural-economy and pro-“environmentalist” land-use policies onto yet another swath of the American landscape. The Department of Interior has been a-beggin’ and a-pleadin’ with President Obama to make better use of his executive powers to effectively confiscate more land under the guise of “protecting” its ecosystems and preserving its “free” recreation opportunities for all, and on Wednesday, Obama mad his eleventh and largest “national monument” designation to date:
President Barack Obama wielded his unilateral power Wednesday to set aside nearly 500,000 acres in New Mexico along the Mexican border as a national monument, and he promised more action to save other treasured landscapes.
“I’ve preserved more than 3 million acres of public lands for future generations. And I am not finished,” Obama declared before signing a proclamation naming the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. …
Wednesday’s action marks Obama’s 12th use of the Antiquities Act to protect lands officials say deserve special treatment, and supporters are lobbying for the president to use his authority more often before he leaves office. …
“I’m searching for more opportunities to preserve federal lands where communities are speaking up. Because wherever I see an opening to get things done for the American people, I’m going to take it,” he said at the Interior Department headquarters after walking from the White House to sign the monument into law.
Oh, rapture — because as everybody knows, the incompetence and inefficiencies inherent in a constantly metastasizing federal government are just the ticket for effect environmental stewardship! Not. If the Obama administration really wanted to make the best decision overall for environmental conservation, the national budget, and local economies, it would be shedding public lands — either to state stewardship or leasing them out to public-private partnerships — instead of constantly acquiring more and/or just designating them as national monuments. There is plenty of opportunity for innovation and efficiency when it comes to effective conservation on public lands, and the Obama administration has been way too slow on the uptake.
Not everyone, it probably goes without saying, was pleased with the president’s munificent declaration:
Earlier this week Rep. Bob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman of the House Natural Resources subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation, sent Obama a letter urging him not to declare the land a monument because sufficient protection for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol employees were not in place. He cited an attack that a National Park Service employee at Arizona’s Chiricahua National Monument suffered last year at the hands of drug smugglers.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that the designation undermines security. He said even Senate Democrats wanted additional security measures to be put in place.
The designation, Boehner said in a statement, will “place additional burdens on Border Patrol personnel and limit access to high crime areas along the border, making it easier for drug smugglers and human traffickers to move in and out of the country.”