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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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.”

Hours After State Of The Union, Senate Targets National Parks

By Claire Moser (via Think Progress)

Just hours after President Obama’s State of the Union address highlighted the effort to protect more public lands and waters than any other administration, the U.S. Senate is poised to vote on a controversial and unpopular proposal that aims to block the protection of new parks, monuments, and historic sites around the country.

Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer’s (R) proposal, which is being offered as an amendment to a bill that would approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, would add additional paperwork and cost to every locally-driven conservation effort that requires federal designation or land purchase by a U.S. agency.

“This amendment’s clear aim is to slow and stop the protection of new parks in the U.S,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “But trying to tie red tape around everything from Civil War battlefields to local trails projects might be one of the most unpopular anti-environmental ideas the new Senate leadership could have possibly started with.”

A public opinion survey of more than 1,000 likely 2016 voters, released last week by the Center for American Progress, found that the idea of stopping the creation of new national parks and monuments is one of the most unpopular ideas that the new Congress is considering, with nearly seven out of ten respondents expressing opposition.

Critics of Senator Fischer’s proposal note that the barriers to new parks that the amendment creates, like requiring the Secretary of the Interior to prove that new designations do not impede other management, would likely be overcome easily, but not without unnecessary paperwork, additional time, and bureaucratic cost to taxpayers. The impacts of the amendment would extend to projects like fishing access points funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the protection of Civil War Battlefields, and the creation of new national wildlife refuges.

The Fischer amendment echoes a proposal introduced by Representative Don Young (R-AK) in the House of Representatives last week that would strip current and future presidents’ authority to designate new national monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act. Both Republican and Democratic presidents have used their authority under the Act to protect public lands and historic sites, including many of the country’s most iconic places such as the Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty.

Claire Moser is the Research and Advocacy Associate with the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress. You can follow her on Twitter at @Claire_Moser.

North Woods national park proponents hiring outreach coordinator to promote plan

By Nick Sambides Jr. (via Bangor Daily News)

The effort to create a North Woods national park adjacent to Baxter State Park soon will have a local voice to answer people’s questions and enlist their support.

David Farmer, a spokesman for leading park advocate Lucas St. Clair and Katahdin Woods and Waters, said that the outreach coordinator position is “a continuation of what we have been working on.”

“That’s having one-on-one conversations with people,” Farmer said Tuesday. “We believe that when people have an opportunity to sit down and talk about the park and have their questions answered, that they are likely to support the park.”

The coordinator will be joining two workers from the company that oversees entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby’s lands in Maine, Eliotsville Plantation Inc., who give tours and hold events in the proposed park area, Farmer said. The park would be located on land donated by Quimby.

The creation of the 20-hour-a-week position, which Farmer said will be filled as soon as possible, follows a Dec. 22 endorsement of the park proposal by Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk E. Francis. Francis called upon U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, to introduce a bill to Congress supporting the creation of the park and recreation area.

A joint statement released by the senators on Tuesday indicated that they continue to consider the idea, but have not committed to legislation.

Read more here: http://bangordailynews.com/2014/12/31/news/penobscot/north-woods-national-park-proponents-hiring-outreach-coordinator-to-promote-plan/

Large National Parks Expansion Attached To Defense Authorization Bill

by Kurt Repanshek (via NationalParksTraveler.com)

In what could be the most significant legislative action pertaining to national parks since 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives is being asked to approve a defense authorization bill that has been amended to create a number of new units of to the National Park System, from a Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park in New York to a Manhattan Project National Historical Park spread across a handful of states. In the Senate, however, Ted Cruz is promising a battle if the House approves the measure.

The hefty, more than 1,600-page bill also contains measures to increase the size of some parks, would require the “modification” of wildlife buffers at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the latter a nod to an ongoing dispute over how the National Park Service works to protect threatened and endangered species of shorebirds and sea turtles, and allow for “donor recognition” within parks. Among the park-related aspects of the legislation, which could go to a full House vote Thursday and then on to the Senate next week, are:

  • Establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park across multiple states;
  • A provision to add the Ashland Harbor Breakwater Light to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin;
  • Create the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park “to help preserve, protect, and interpret the nationally significant resources that exemplify the industrial heritage of the Blackstone River Valley;”
  • Designation of a Coltsville National Historical Park in Connecticut;
  • Would redesignate the First State National Monument in Delaware as the First State National Historical Park;
  • Would adjust the boundaries of the Stephen Mather Wilderness at North Cascades National Park in Washington state to allow for realignment of the Stehekin Valley Road out of the flood plain;
  • Enlarge Oregon Caves National Monument by 4,070 acres, which would be contained in a “National Preserve” attached to the monument;
  • Would establish Tule Springs National Monument near Las Vegas;
  • Expansion of Cape Hatteras National Seashore;
  • Would create a nearly 90,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico and transfer it from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Park Service, and;
  • Would expand Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi.

Other provisions would require the Park Service to study other sites for possible inclusion in the park system. While the legislation also would allow recognition of donors to the parks within the park system, it specifically would prevent “recognition of the donor or any product or service of the donor as an official sponsor, or any similar form of recognition, of the National Park Service or the National Park System; a National Park Service endorsement of the donor or any product or service of the donor; or naming rights to any unit of the National Park System or a National Park System facility, including a visitor center.”

Read more here: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2014/12/possible-congressional-battle-looming-over-parks-legislation-attached-defense-authorization-bill25993