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Hey everyone! This is sort of a long read but worth it to anyone who utilizes any OHV recreation areas. Please take the time to email or call President Obama, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and Senator Feinstein. (ORBA | The Voice of the Off-Road Business Community
Stop Abusing the Antiquities Act!
Hopefully the title sparked a little curiosity. What is the "Antiquities Act" and who is abusing it? Let's also add, stopping the abuse is a top priority for the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) and most other OHV organizations.
The 1906 law is at the forefront of national land-use decisions. It provides the president with the authority to create National Monuments. The law is intended to protect "significant natural, cultural or scientific features." The protected features are to consist of the smallest area necessary for the identified sites of interest.
In recent years, however, presidents have used the law to create National Monuments that are hundreds of thousands of acres in size. This is consequential. Roads and trails for motorized vehicles are frequently closed as a result. To date, President Obama has designated 19 national monuments covering millions of acres. Recent examples include Basin and Range National Monument (NV), Berryessa Snow Mountain Monument (CA), Browns Canyon National Monument (CO) and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (CA).
The threat of designations looms highest as Presidents prepare to leave office. That is what is happening now. In August, California Senator Diane Feinstein sent a letter to President Obama asking that he use the Antiquities Act to create three new National Monuments within the California Desert.
ORBA has been working with Sen. Feinstein for six years on a bill to protect dedicated OHV recreation areas in the California desert. The comprehensive "California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act" (S 414) would also provide land for energy, mining, conservation and other uses. Some of the land would be designated as National Monuments.
It's an ambitious endeavor and Sen. Feinstein has been unable to reach consensus with all of the differing parties. As a result, she has taken the unusual step of asking the President to unilaterally create the Sand to Snow, Mojave Trails and Castle Mountain National Monuments. It's a risky move since the president can create even larger monuments than were requested. It also makes it more difficult to reach consensus on the remaining tracts of land, including protections for OHV areas.
ORBA supports a bill just introduced in the House by Rep. Paul Cook called the California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act (HR 3668) that seeks to reach consensus on the comprehensive approach begun by Sen. Feinstein. It would preserve 300,000 acres of the California desert for off-roading and expand OHV recreation areas by over 60,000 acres, including 20,000 at Johnson Valley. It would also provide six "national" designations to the protected OHV areas.
When the people of the state of California began working together six years ago to bring about a balance that protects public land, that process was circumvented by the letter to President Obama. Contact Senator Feinstein, the White House and the Secretary of Interior to voice your opinion. Let the President, Secretary and Senator know that it's inappropriate to use the Antiquities Act while legislation is pending in Congress. That legislation, S 414 (Feinstein) and HR 3668 (Cook), will allow the public to help address land-use issues without Presidential intervention.
Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell
310-914-7318 CA. Office