February 27, 2016

Sorry, but I'm still not jazzed by #neoliberal national monuments

And, let's be blunt, B-grade environmentalists — that's what any national monument that's run by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, or both, is. Period. Any new national monument not in the National Park Service's control will, in its non-wilderness areas, be run as a multi-use area, with at least some degree of logging, grazing and extractive industries allowed.

Going back to Slick Willie on Grand Staircase-Escalante, through Shrub, and now to Dear Leader, we've added little in the way of real national monument lands. We've also not helped NPS out with its ongoing budget shortfall. And Dear Leader has foisted upon us a commercialized, neoliberal centennial celebration for the Park Service.

Two of the three B-grade national monuments Obama declared a week ago adjoin Joshua Tree National Park; why weren't all or part of Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow added to it?

Answer? It would eliminate multiple use in non-wilderness areas, and it would cost the NPS money that Obama won't fight to get. And a political battle that he might not want, unless he can expand current Joshua Tree boundaries by executive order.

And, why didn't he try? The Antiquities Act creates national monuments by executive action; it doesn't specify what agency runs them. At a minimum, this could have been Joshua Tree NM, jointly administered with the NP. Slick Willie's Giant Sequoia NM could likewise have been tied in with Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP.

And Castle Mountain is an inholding inside Mojave National Preserve, also run by the NPS, so a somewhat similar argument applies.

Per maps of all three, available here, significant amounts of Mojave Trails is non-wilderness. (I don't know how much of that area is WSA or not.) Also, the map of Mojave Trails shows a significant amount of private land inholdings. That's bad enough on a faux national monument.

Add to it that Obama is, outside of the golf course, an even less nature-philiac president than Clinton, even as concerned environmentalists decry the lack of people of color in our national parks, and the circle is squared.

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