Ted Cruz and John Kasich want to sell off OUR public lands

via Think Progress

In a controversial new TV ad aiming to sway conservative caucus-goers in Nevada but likely to backfire with mainstream voters, Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz (R-TX) vows to sell-off or give away the state’s national parks, national forests, national monuments, and other public lands.

“If you trust me with your vote,” says Cruz in the ad, “I will fight day and night to return full control of Nevada’s lands to its rightful owners, its citizens.”

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Obama creates 3 new national monuments to protect 1.8 million acres of California desert

By Louis Sahagun via Los Angeles Times

President Obama designated three new national monuments in the California desert Thursday, expanding federal protection to 1.8 million acres of landscapes that have retained their natural beauty despite decades of heavy mining, cattle ranching and off-roading.

The designation was requested by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who for a decade has sought to protect land that wasn’t included in the 1994 California Desert Protection Act. That measure covered nearly 7.6 million acres, elevated Death Valley and Joshua Tree to national park status and created the Mojave National Preserve.

Unable to gain momentum on her California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act last year, Feinstein and conservation groups asked Obama to act unilaterally to create the three monuments overlapping biological zones between roughly Palm Springs and the Nevada border.

Concern over the long-term health of the deceptively delicate terrain spurred Obama to designate the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which authorizes presidents to create national monuments on federal land to protect “objects of historic and scientific interest.”


Chiricahua National Monument could become a national park

Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument

By Douglas Kreutz (The Arizona Daily Star)

Some residents of Southern Arizona have launched a campaign to have Chiricahua National Monument southeast of Willcox redesignated as Chiricahua National Park, and they’re getting support from a member of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally says she is planning to introduce legislation to authorize the change, which requires an act of Congress.

Chiricahua Monument — a preserve of 11,985 acres known for its spectacular rock formations, scenic viewpoints and extensive network of trails — would “have no significant changes other than a name change,” said Allen Etheridge, superintendent of the monument. Designation as a national park “wouldn’t change boundaries or increase the budget.”

Bob Gent, a member of the Sierra Vista Tourism Commission and coordinator of the Campaign for Chiricahua National Park, said he and others in Southern Arizona strongly believe that a redesignation is merited.

“Chiricahua National Monument truly is a geologic wonder of the world, and it deserves national park status,” Gent said. “It’s unique in its scenic beauty.”

3 New National Monuments in Texas, California, Nevada

By JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mammoth bones, prehistoric rock carvings and more than a million acres of wilderness will be protected as part of three new national monuments that President Barack Obama is creating in California, Nevada and Texas.

The presidential move, announced by the White House early Friday, brings to 19 the number of monuments that Obama has created or expanded since taking office. Environmental advocates hailed the new monuments as bringing sorely needed protection to natural American treasures, even as Republicans in Congress were pursuing legislation to stop the president.

In Texas, Obama is creating a monument at Waco Mammoth, a relatively small site in central Texas where archaeologists have discovered remains of 24 Columbian Mammoths — the largest of the mammoth species — from more than 65,000 years ago, the White House said. Like other mammoths, the Columbian Mammoth is now extinct, but roamed freely in North America during the Pleistocene epoch, known colloquially as the ice age. The site marks the only spot in the U.S. where a nursery herd of mammoths has been discovered, and is also home to preserved remains of other ancient species including the saber-toothed cat, dwarf antelope and the western camel.

Nevada’s Basin and Range, home to rare rock art from 4,000 years ago, will also become a national monument. The White House said more than 700,000 acres of public land will be protected in an untouched area of the Great Basin region. In addition to petroglyphs, the site also contains “City,” an array of abstract sculptures that artist Michael Heizer has worked on for more than four decades. The project evokes elements of Mesoamerican life, with ceremonial mounds interspersed with more modern architecture. Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat, has been pushing for years to protect the site and its surroundings.

Tourists and nature lovers in California will see more than 330,000 acres in northern California set aside for a new monument at Berryessa Snow Mountain. The White House touted the area’s rich biodiversity and Native American cultural sites, but the area is best known as a destination for hikers, campers, fishermen and hunters. Officials said designating the site as a monument would likely prompt increased visits to the area and drive economic growth in the coming years.

“I applaud the president, because his historic action will preserve this magnificent area for generations and boost the local economy,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Read more here: http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2015/07/10/new-national-monuments-coming-in-texas-california-nevada

Cut new national parks, says group backed by Koch brothers

by  (via inhabitat.com)

The National Park Service operations budget has been cut 80 percent in the last 4 years, but not enough for a group backed by the Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation. In a recent New York Times Op-Ed, Reed Watson, executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center, lambasted existing provisions to protect national parks and efforts to set aside new land for preservation. PERC, which has received over $90,000 from the Koch brother’s foundation, advocates cutting all taxpayer support for national parks and switching to a 100 percent fee-based funding structure instead.

Watson says President Barack Obama is “irresponsible” for creating seven new parks instead of addressing the National Park Service’s $11.5 billion maintenance backlog. He suggests the administration should use the $900 million Land and Water Conservation Fund derived from offshore oil and gas leases to pay for maintenance projects, instead of what it has been used to do since it was established in 1965: acquire new land and protect existing green spaces so future generations can enjoy them as well.

He fails to mention the National Park Service is struggling to stay afloat as a result of deep budget cuts over the past several years. For fiscal year 2015, the National Park Service requested $3.65 billion in funding. It received just $2.98 billion. Yet each year, American taxpayers give the fossil fuel industry $21 billion in exploration and production subsidies alone.

Read more here: http://inhabitat.com/group-backed-by-koch-money-wants-to-cut-new-national-parks/