Obama has used his influence to leverage the Antiquities Act of 1906 to lock up 1.8m acres of land in California and other parts of the American west. The National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) have expressed their dissatisfaction at this “middle-of-the-night” move.
It is the 22nd time in the president’s administration that he has locked up land. In total, 265m acres have been protected under the act in the last seven years, “without any formal review, economic analysis, or public comment”, says the NCBA.
Obama the ‘abuser’
Despite repeated concerns voiced by the NCBA, beef producers have been locked out of grazing land and this could lead to cattle ranchers feeling “disenfranchised”, says Lane.
In a Betway Beef podcast with NCBA press officer Chase Adams and Ethan Lane, the PLC executive director, who advises the NCBA on federal land ownership issues, expressed concern at the move.
“The [Antiquities] act has been misused over the years by 16 different presidents, the current president being the worst abuser at protecting large landscapes,” said Lane.
“We’re working hard to educate lawmakers and make sure they understand just how urgent the situation is. As this administration comes to a close, we expect 10m acres more to be designated across the West with these penstroke, middle-of-the-night designations. The more lawmakers can get engaged and head off this threat, the better we will all be.”
What is the Antiquities Act?
A bill signed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 that gives the US President executive power to create national monuments from public land to protect natural, cultural or scientific sites. It has come under repeated criticism from US cattle ranchers, who say the proclamation excludes livestock grazing, contradicting the multi-use law which governs the land.
The NCBA said the US public needed to be engaged on issues of federal land seizure, as it restricted the land from beneficial, proper use too.
“This president has misused and abused his executive power more than any of his predecessors in an attempt to distract from his true environmental legacy which will be one of mismanagement and undue economic hardship in rural communities,” said Brenda Richards, PLC president.
“It’s outrageous that the Administration would openly boast of sidestepping the American public under the guise of protecting these lands when in fact they are eroding the multiple-use doctrine of the federal land management agencies,” Richards adds.
Listen to the full podcast below.