Monument Battle Lines

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News releases popped up on my news feed today like dandelions after a summer rain. Organizations like the Outdoor Industry Association, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Montana Wildlife Federation were all slamming and/or questioning the Trump Administration.

The battle lines are already being drawn because Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted his report to the White House regarding recommendations for national monuments. Nobody really knows what those recommendations are just yet – but these folks already know that those recommendations are wrong and they’re setting up for a frontal assault!

You can look up any of these organizations for their individual press releases. I’ll just link to one here so you can get a sampling of what I read over my morning coffee.

I’ll be doing a detailed analysis of this topic as the recommendations become available for public review. What I will do this morning is mention a couple things that I believe we should all keep in mind as the propaganda machines start ramping up the rhetoric.

I really question the numbers regarding “public support.” Here is an excerpt from the news release from TRCP:

Of the more than 1.3 million people who commented during the review period, more than 99 percent were in favor of keeping national monuments intact.

That statement is not necessarily to be taken at face value or as fact. I took a quick look at the report that was used as the basis for that 99 percent number. The report is entitled “Public Support for Public Lands: Analysis of Comments Regarding Review and Potential Loss of Protection for America’s National Monuments.”

I examined the methodology used in this analysis. There were approximately 1.3 million comments received. Of those, 742,692 were analyzed. Of those, 32,000 were “randomly selected” to form “a pool from which the volunteer reviewers would draw.” In the end, the number of comments where reviews were completed totaled 1,705.

This small number really draws a question mark in my mind. Then I further learned that the reviews that were completed provided “a means of training and testing the machine learning algorithm before using it to gauge the sentiment expressed.”

They do not have my confidence built up about the numbers they cite.

Additionally, I reviewed a few summaries within that report and they contributed to my skepticism. For instance, in some of the states that actually have some of the national monuments in question, the percentage who are opposed to the Executive Order were as follows:

Maine at 75.2%, Nevada at 72.4%, and Oregon at 76.2%. These numbers are a far cry from the 99% touted, even using the questionable methodology described.

Bottom line – we need to look at specifics as the recommendations surface and we need to remember that the federal government does not have an exemplary track record in regard to managing our public lands.

That’s the view from here.

Author: Daniel D. Lamoreux

As an outdoor writer and freelance photographer, Dan's publishing credits include articles and/or photographs in more than 40 state, regional and national publications and he has authored three books. His expertise on the subject matter has been developed from over 40 years experience pursuing the outdoor sports.

2 Comments

  1. Just don’t gore MY ox! And please put up a few more log chains and block off a few more “public” trails so they can’t be used. Mismanagement has been the key word for years….maybe the current administration is onto something if they are drawing that kind of heat!

  2. I’ve been down this road with people so many times it’s like rote when I write about it. But I’ll do it again here. I’m a staunch originalist when it come to the U.S. Constitution. Anyone who understands the constitution and the reason for it (trust me they are too few) knows that it’s main purpose was to limit the powers of the central government over the states and the people. The constitution enumerates the things that the government can do in Article I, Section 8. Everything else belongs to the states and the people. By my count there are only 17 powers enumerated to the government. I’ll be redundant…everything else belongs to the states and the people. One of those powers of those 17 enumerates how much land the government can own.
    ————
    To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings.
    ————
    Nowhere are they empowered to own National Forests and National Parks. All I see there is 10 square miles for the capital city. Those things are left up to the states and the people. People fawn over Teddy Roosevelt because he championed the parks and forests. Those people don’t realize that Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive president. He would use the constitution when it favored him and step on it when he didn’t agree with it. When it comes to federal own land Teddy didn’t just step on it he stomped on it.

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