U.S. Senate rejects move to bar new national monuments in Utah

It failed, as it should-

Story in the Salt Lake Tribune. Senate rejects move to bar new monuments. By Thomas Burr. The Salt Lake Tribune.



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  1. JimT Avatar

    I swear…maybe there is something in the water in some of these sagebrush states, or maybe some spore in the dirt, or human prion disease we have yet to discover.

  2. dewey Avatar

    If you’ve been watching Ken Burns’ epic on the National Parks, now in reruns on PBS , you would’ve seen this story before. The long hard fight to establish Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming pitted ranchers and provincial local interests against the federal government , beginning in the 1930’s. FDR used the Antiquities Act to create the Jackson Hole National Monument when Congress would not set aside lands as either a park or other public holding. The fight ended in 1950 when the ranchers caved and Congress created GTNP. But Wyoming got some of what they wanted. They got a special exemption stating that no more national monuments etc. could be created by Presidential fiat in Wyoming, only by Congress. ( Yes, JimT, there is some pathogen in the West’s ecosystems that causes some folk to downright hate the federal government. Somehow they don’t seem to mind the checks , tax breaks, services and subsidies they recieve , well over and above what any of them pay in personally. )

    The only other state that has successfully established this prohibition is Alaska. Utah and Nevada have tried and failed , fortunately in the case of the latter as the Utah delegation does not seem to appreciate what they have within their borders.

    This vote by the Senate is no doubt a temporary reprieve. Trust me, the Western delegations will be back, demanding more states’ rights foofawraw.

  3. Layton Avatar

    “I swear…maybe there is something in the water in some of these sagebrush states, or maybe some spore in the dirt, or human prion disease we have yet to discover.”

    Or maybe, just maybe, enough of an independent streak to object to “big brother” and some of his BS.

    1. JimT Avatar

      Right…trying to take care of FEDERAL lands so they are not trashed like so much of the West has been by industry is something to resist. Yeah, I can see that….;*) You think Aramco, and Asarco and Plum Creek are your friends.

      If they were truly independent, they would stop putting their hands out and whining for more Federal welfare, Layton. You can’t have it both ways as a politician, and not be rightly labeled as a hypocrite.

  4. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Dewey – can you please name the origin of the funds that I receive “way over and above what I pay in personally”. In addition, if you and JimT want to give the Federal Government more control over your lives and property that is your business. Some of us have other opinions – how about if we respect yours you respect ours?

    1. JimT Avatar

      One of the great fallacies of the conservative right, or libertarians, about environmentalists and their organizations is that we like the Feds and what they do, and we are willing to lie down and let them do as they please. Most of my advocacy and legal work has been against government agencies who either won’t act on their legal obligations at all, or roll over for private industry because they are told to by their bosses and legislators. Check the number of lawsuits being brought these days, and I think you will see the Feds are hardly getting a pass from the enviro advocates.

      The fact of the matter is that I am as suspicious of Federal actions as you are. The difference may be that I am equally skeptical of actions and positions taken by industry and state politicians when it comes to federal lands. Selfishness and greed is the dominant ethic, and only harms what you and others “on the other side” purport to love. Don’t let your libertarian principles blind you to the damage being done to them with the current trend towards “too big to fail” and “never saw a merger I didn’t like” mentalities, or the myth that local control is somehow free of fault when it comes to putting the health of the ecosystems and inhabitants first, or at least co-equal with human uses. Too many times Local Control is just a label for “getting mine” at the expense of land that isn’t the state’s to control.

  5. Wilderness Muse Avatar
    Wilderness Muse

    Does anyone know how the Congressional appropriations process works for monuments which are designated by the President?

    The issue is this: If the President designates one or more areas, some of which have no administrative cost history, this results in a need for additional funds to develop and administer the site in perpetuity. Does Congress just follow the President’s lead in automatically approving budget for these sites when the agency responsible for administering the site makes its budget request?

    Recall that the National Parks budget for decades has been suffering from huge unfunded gaps for basic maintenance, as well as capital budgeting to meet masterplan obigations, like new visitor/interpretive centers, access roads, campgrounds, land acquisition, etc.

    1. JimT Avatar

      I wonder why…could it be part of the Republican strategy started under Regan to “starve the beast”? Cut the budgets of the DOI agencies, people get ticked off at the fee proposals, and voila…suddenly the thought of selling the Parks…an idea that fell flat last time it was tried….or essentially opening the doors to corporate control through monies given or access bought becomes more appealing. Thing is..what happens to those private funds when something like this economy happens? Bush did a consistent job of cutting DOI funds in his 8 years, and now that we are living with legacy of his economic giveaways to Wall Streets and the UberRich, there is no way to restore those budgets.

  6. mikepost Avatar

    Talks with Bears: as an example, the latest figure I saw for Wyoming is that the state receives $1.11 back from the feds for every $1.00 that is paid in all fed taxes in that state. I agree that it is hard to translate that into how any one person might be $0.11 per tax dollar better off in Wyoming but there it is.

  7. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Mikepost – JB was nice enough to provide the link below last week when we had a similar discussion and I have not had a chance to decipher it just yet. It seems hard at first blush to find the military and Federal spending on Federal lands etc. In other words, a large (land area) state with a small population and large federal land holdings along with large military spending could skew those numbers?? I do not know this, just thinking out loud. Here is the link.


  8. mikepost Avatar

    TwB, my understanding is that this is revenue actually transferred to the state and local governments from the Feds and not just spending inside the state by the feds. Of course much is ear marked but across the US it seems pretty consistent that states with large urban populations get less than $1.00 per head back and more rural states get more than $1.00 per head. California for instance gets about $0.93

    1. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      The thead the TWB was speaking of has similiar tax paid vs. money returned information. My understanding of all this is that it includes all federal dollars expended in the state (WY in this instance). It could include federal jobs, with all that BLM, FS, NP, BIA land; federal highway funds for the long stretches of lonely interstate highways; military; foodstamps for those who qualify and whatever other cost share money for public works projects that comes back. It does not easily translate into put in a dollar in tax and get back 1.11 or even up to 1.50 as in past years, for WY, on a per capita basis.

      As well as rural states, some of the largest benfitting states with highest returns are in the South, or outside DC where there is alot of military spending. Virginia does quite well, if I recall. Of course there are many government offices and federal contractor offices there. It will be interesting to see the statistics for Louisiana for the next few years as the post Katrina federal figures for recovery and capital projects start to roll in.

  9. Mike Avatar

    Here’s the link:


    It comes down to economic production put into the federal government by the workforce of the given state. Teo pten non-welfare states:

    1. New Jersey ($0.62)
    2. Connecticut ($0.64)
    3. New Hampshire ($0.68)
    4. Nevada ($0.73)
    5. Illinois ($0.77)
    6. Minnesota ($0.77)
    7. Colorado ($0.79)
    8. Massachusetts ($0.79)
    9. California ($0.81)
    10. New York ($0.81)

    1. JimT Avatar


      Is there enough data to assume that the traditional Blue states are enabling the Western state budgets?

  10. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    WM – do to the “various issues” regarding native american tax structure, how are citizens of a Reservation counted for in this type of study? The Reservations appear to be huge welfare receipents with little or no contributions to federal revenue? Any thoughts on this?

    1. JimT Avatar

      I am hoping any Native Americans on this blog will reply in full. I do find the question somewhat troubling given the history of how Native Americans have been treated historically as well as presently, and the tremendous poverty that has been a direct result of treaties being repeatedly broken, monies stolen or “lost” by the Feds.

    2. Wilderness Muse Avatar
      Wilderness Muse


      I don’t have any knowledge in that area. Issues involving allocation of federal funds/tax revenues to reservations have lots of different dimensions. I would suggest looking beyond “welfare entitlements” to direct jobs involving tribal interests but funded by BIA. Some tribes with treaty fishery interests have very sophisticated and expensive hatchery programs, and they are doing alot of good things in the area of wildlife management – including the tribal interest in wolf management, for example.

      Federal taxation in Indian Country, I think, is pretty complex, with lots of exemptions meaning no tax going to Washington DC at all on allotted lands. Other tribes, and this may vary by state, share some profits from cigarette sales with the states (not federal but worth mentioning). Maybe somebody else knows about federal taxation of revenues from casino gambling complexes that have been popping up across the country the last fifteen years, or so. I simply do not know.

      And last, some reservations no doubt do consume more tax dollars than they generate. Maybe some of this will be offset when the Cobell v. Salazar (and past Secy’ of Inteiors) settlement is completed. This was a class action suit filed in 1996 against the Department of Interior for improper accounting of Indian trust assets, that resulted in a multi-billion dollar settlement in favor of individual indians.

  11. monty Avatar

    Jim T, thanks for your excellent comments! There is a missplaced rage in this country, by those on the right, who fight “mythical windmills” believing that environmntalism is out to destroy the free market system: like clean water and air and healthy ecosystems and open space will rob them of their freedoms.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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