Obama establishes three new national monuments

Huge Nevada monument riles Republican extremists-

President Obama has added over a million acres to the national parks system by designating three new national monuments on U.S. public lands.  They are in Texas, California, and  Nevada.

They are Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, 331,000 acres in Northern California, Waco Mammoth National Monument in Texas and the big (704,000 acre) Basin and Range National Monument in central Nevada. All three had local support, and they spoke up on the day the President designated the monuments.

The Nevada monument also had a lot of intense local opposition in southeast central Nevada (one of the least populated places in the West) and from the four Republicans in Nevada’s congressional delegation. They are Senator Dean Heller, Rep. Cresent Hardy, Joe Heck and Mark Amodei. These congressionals not only oppose the monuments but the very system of American public lands in general. They want the national forests and BLM lands given to the states or sold off. Two of these men had even earlier given statements supporting Cliven Bundy’s illegal grazing on a big tract of public (Bureau of Land Management) land near Mesquite, Nevada. Last year they backed off of him after Bundy’s statements about Blacks that were widely regarded as racist.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the senior member of the delegation, and himself the leader of the U.S. Senate Democrats, played an important part advancing the Basin and Range monument. Senator Reid personally lobbied the President. In Nevada, the split between his views on land protection from those of his fellow Republicans is profound. Actually this is true all over the country — Democrats for keeping the public lands and Republicans transferring them or selling them off.

Republican Hardy, almost beside himself with anger, used the consideration of the appropriations bill for the Department of Interior to ram though a spending block on money to manage any of these three new national monuments.  The four Nevada Republicans also introduced the “Nevada Land Sovereignty Act of 2015,”that prevents the President for creating or expanding national monuments without approval of the Congress. Happily for conservationists, the Interior appropriations bill, which is full of world class anti-environmental riders, was soon pulled from the floor because of a controversy over the use of the Confederate flat in national cemeteries. They hope the appropriations bill will continue to linger near death.

The President did not release a lot of detailed information about the areas he designated — most importantly how they would be managed. He reiterated on each monument how protection as a national monument would stimulate the local economy and yet that his designation would not interfere with on-going activities like livestock grazing. What was left out is most critical because Republicans fear it will be big land “lockup,” with no grazing or other land disturbing activities of which they seem so fond. They even suggested this was a plot to begin removing residents of central Nevada.

Here is what the President did reveal. “FACT SHEET: President Obama Designates New National Monuments.”

While conservationists widely cheered, there was fear that the President’s decision would keep the old, largely unenforced grazing on the public lands going in the same old “destructive” way. One conservation benefit is that the monument will finally kill that long planned national high level radioactive waste repository in southern Nevada by blocking the building of railway for radioactives through was is not the national monument.

It can be argued that if any action at all will deeply antagonize the enemy Republicans, perhaps it makes sense for them to have some Presidential action to truly be angry about.



  1. Donna goodnight Avatar
    Donna goodnight

    I hope president Obama designates some of this land v for the preservation of the wild horse herds. Clive Bundy needs to get off public lands!!

  2. skyrim Avatar

    “They even suggested this was a plot to begin removing residents of central Nevada.”
    Good idea, but lets start with those stinkin’ damn cows. I was by Bundy’s place Friday. No sign of militia by the highway, but there may have been a few goons down by the house.
    The river bottom is littered with scrawny cows and cow shit as far as the eye can see. The only feed is in these fragile areas where the grasses grow.

  3. Yvette Avatar

    Is this Obama’s ‘shove it’ moment?

  4. don Avatar

    Regarding the Nevada monument: Both valleys (Garden & Coal) in the monument are heavily impacted by cows, though Coal is by far the worst of the two, with sheep as well as cows. On the east side of Coal V. lies Seaman Range which includes Weepah Wilderness, which has a ponderosa pine forest as well as prehistoric Indian petroglyphs, etc. Same goes for the White Narrows archeological area. The designation may make it difficult for a road to be constructed should Yucca Mt. be opened for nuke waste.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      Thank you. I doubted that the descriptions of these valleys as almost pristine was true, only perceived that way by those who know nothing about cattle grazing on arid and semi-arid lands.

  5. Kyle Gardner Avatar
    Kyle Gardner

    Potentially fantastic news, but yes let’s see the management plan or whether there will be any funding available. There are all sorts of ways to deflate these things and the current Congress is full of such machines. Now can O please designate Greater Canyonlands?

  6. Current Affairs News Avatar

    Good initiative taken by the American president, but congressionals want the national forests and BLM lands given to the states or sold off.


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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Ralph Maughan