Yesterday, Obama declared Bundy's cows a national monument. The new 300,000 acre Gold Butte National Monument encompasses Bundy's ranch and lands where his cows roam.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said he objected to the use of the Antiquities Act in designating Gold Butte as a national monument because it bypassed Congress and the public.
“We all share a common goal of enacting smart conservation measures which help preserve our lands for the use and enjoyment of all Nevadans,” Sandoval said. “My strong preference is for a more collaborative process when making such an important designation. I firmly believe our ranchers, environmentalists, and community stakeholders are the best experts in ensuring Nevada’s lands are preserved, protected and accessible.”
Conservatives have voiced concern about the lack of input in designations.
Those concerns resulted in an armed standoff with Bundy, his sons and their supporters, including militia and patriot groups that had gathered on the family’s Bunkerville ranch in April 2014.
Bureau of Land Management officials left the property following the standoff and did not return until 2016. A White House official downplayed any safety concerns and said there is no elevated enforcement status at Gold Butte.
Bundy faces criminal charges in federal court over the confrontation. He has claimed ancestral rights to the Gold Butte property.
The Bundy family, in a statement, said to Obama that “we are saddened, but not surprised, by your decision to make our ranch and home a national monument.”
Well, the Paiute Tribes had ancestral rights to the land, too - right up until they didn't. The Bundys are just the latest to lose an "ancestral rights" claim to a president - and this one's intent on building a "legacy" of environmentalism (since the rest of his "legacy" is in ruins). Preservationists are obviously thrilled:
Las Vegas conservationist Alan O’Neill has some experience with both Gold Butte and the Antiquities Act.
During his 13-year stint as superintendent for Lake Mead National Recreation Area, he dealt with Bundy’s rogue cattle at the northern end of the lake and helped set up Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument just across the Arizona border from Gold Butte after President Bill Clinton designated the area in 2000.
O’Neill said Obama’s action Wednesday fills in the “void” between Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon, granting well-deserved protection for what he called “one of the greatest landscapes we have in the West.”
Of course, if O'Neill and his pals had their way, Lake Mead wouldn't exist, either. But they'll get around to removing the dam that creates the lake. Or maybe they won't: it supplies Las Vegas with water, and it'd be hard to be a Las Vegas conservationist if ya got no water....