Daines Introduces Bill Blocking Monuments

After extending the North Fork olive branch to Montana’s two Democratic US Senators, will the senators now extend the same courtesy to Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT) and stand in support of a bill that would protect Montana communities from new national monument designations that lack local support? 

Only time will tell on that question.  In the meantime, ranchers, landowners, outdoor enthusiasts, and others concerned that President Obama may be on the verge of another monument designation spree reminiscient of the Clinton days will be assured that their new Congressman has re-introduced legislation to stop just that.   

A monument designation is of particular concern to residents in Northcentral and Northeastern Montana who learned, via leaked documents from the Department of the Interior, that their ranches and land were being targeted for a potential monument designation. 

Here’s more details and reaction in a press release from Daines’ office:


Daines spearheads legislation which prevents President Obama from unilaterally locking up Montana lands, ensures Montanans’ voices are heard


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve Daines today introduced the Montana Land Sovereignty Act, which protects Montana lands from being unilaterally locked up by the President and ensures that Montanans have a voice in all new national monument designations.

Daines’ legislation exempts Montana from the Antiquities Act of 1906 and prevents the President from designating new national monuments in Montana without Congressional approval.

“As a fifth-generation Montanan and sportsman, I know how important our natural resources are in the ‘Treasure State.’  I also know how important it is for Montanans to play a strong role in the management of those resources,” Daines stated. “The Obama administration’s persistent efforts to stretch the true intent of the Antiquities Act not only threaten Montana’s ability to manage our state’s resources—they completely ignore the needs of local communities, including the threat to local economies, most impacted by the President’s overreach. Montanans deserve to have a seat at the table when it comes to designating our state’s lands as national monuments—the Montana Land Sovereignty Act ensures that Montanans’ voices are heard.”

Daines recently completed a two-week statewide tour of Montana’s natural resources in order to hear first-hand Montanans’ concerns over the management of the state’s resources.  During the tour, Montanans stressed the need for more local input and bipartisan policies that take Montanans’ needs into account.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to create national monuments on federal lands in emergency situations to protect historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest from imminent harm.

In recent years, the Obama administration has suggested using the Antiquities Act as a means to circumvent Congress and designate large parcels of land as “national monuments,” without Congressional approval or local input.

Phillips County Commissioner Lesley Robinson, who serves as the Chair of Montana Association of Counties Public Lands Committee and the Vice-Chair of the Public Lands Committee for the National Association of Counties, applauded Daines’ efforts.

“I appreciate that Congressman Daines is leading the way to protect Montanans’ points of view in the management of our state’s natural resources,” Robinson stated. “Too often, the executive branch has abandoned the original intent of the Antiquities Act by threating to unilaterally set aside lands without allowing Montanans to have a voice in such decisions. To truly be successful, any effort has to have local support and be community driven. Decisions can’t be driven from the top down.”

Montana Citizens for Balanced Use also commended Daines for introducing legislation to protect Montana lands from the abuse of the Antiquities Act:

“The Obama administration’s abuse of the Antiquities Act is an affront to the thousands of Montanans who enjoy our state’s resources every day,” stated Kerry White, executive board member of Citizens for Balanced Use.   “The citizens of Montana depend on access to these lands for responsible resource development, multiple use recreation and jobs that support the local communities. I am thankful that Congressman Daines is fighting back against the Administration’s efforts to further restrict Montana’s lands, without any input from the people most affected by these policies.  The Montana Land Sovereignty Act is a great step toward protecting Montanans’ ability to best manage our state’s resources.”

Daines’ legislation has also received widespread support from Montana farmers and ranchers, including the Montana Stockgrowers Association:

“It is important that all Montanans have a voice in these significant types of land use designations,” said George Trischman, Montana Stockgrowers Association member and Montana Public Lands Council Chairman.  “This legislation will ensure a fair and open process for landowners and others to engage in and guarantee that our voices are heard.  We appreciate Congressman Daines foresight in bringing this legislation forward and taking a proactive approach to this important issue.”

Congress exempted Wyoming from the Antiquities Act in 1950. Daines’ legislation would provide Montana with the same designation.

Daines’ legislation has already moved quickly through the House, with the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation scheduled to hold a hearing on Daines’ legislation at 10:00AM EST on Tuesday, April 16.



Monument Blocking Bill Passes US House

This news actually came out late Tuesday as I was driving back home from the Gubernatorial Candidate Forum in Lewistown.  Nonetheless, I figured I may have seen something in all the states large newspapers.  I should have known better, as there has been hardly a mention of this issue which has drawn thousands of Montanans to townhall meetings on the Hi Line. 

Congressman Denny Rehberg announced late Tuesday that the US House of Representatives passed a measure that would require Presidential monument designations made through the Antiquities Act to be approved by the impacted state legislature and governor. 

Here’s more from a press release issued by the Congressman’s staff:

The legislation comes after secret plans were uncovered to designate 13 million acres in 11 Western States, including 2.5 million acres in Montana.

“When it comes to protecting Montana’s public lands from President Obama’s harmful agenda, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Rehberg.  “Win or lose, President Obama will have what he calls ‘greater flexibility’ to pursue his true agenda after the election.  Public opposition – and there’s plenty of that in Montana – simply won’t matter to him anymore.  That’s why we’ve got to act now to ensure that any new National Monument designations have local support.”

The Antiquities Act authorizes the President to designate objects or areas of historic or scientific interest as National Monuments on lands owned or controlled by the United States.  An internal Department of Interior document revealed the Administration is considering using this law to create as many as 14 new National Monument designations in the West.

Specifically, the leaked portion of the memo identified 2.5 million acres of land in Montana to be set aside as a National Monument.  The memo also calls for the buy-out of 80,000 acres of private in-holdings within the Missouri Breaks National Monument and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, in addition to the acquisition of 39,000 acres of state-administered in-holdings in the same area.

The 2012 Presidential election makes this legislation all the more timely.  In 2001, Montanans got burned by the Clinton Administration’s designation of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument during his lame duck period.  If President Obama were to lose, there is nothing to stop him from making similar designations consistent with the plans we’ve already seen.  Even if he wins, he’s already been caught boasting that after the election he’ll have “more flexibly” to pursue his true agenda without the accountability of an election to worry about.


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