Rep. Rob Bishop moves to limit law on national monuments

Grand Staircase - DS - Toadstools MW - KCOT-X2.jpg
With clear skies during our last workshop, we couldn't pass up a good opportunity for Milky Way photography. We headed out to The Toadstools and captured this scene. The clouds you see on the left came in quite quickly and within just a few minutes had completely covered the Milky Way. It was fortunate we arrived when we did and all participants were very happy with the images they got. If you want to learn more about Night Photography, sign-up for our upcoming Escalante Workshop later this month:?

NOTE: HR 3990 is embedded below.

(KUTV) Utah's Rep. Rob Bishop introduced a bill, HR 3990, that will limit the ability of U.S. presidents to designate federal land considered historic, geographically significant or culturally important.

The bill, supported by Republican members of the House Committee on Natural Resources, would limit a president's ability to designate monuments larger 640 acres an not nearer than 50 miles from the exterior of another national monument. It grants exceptions for larger monuments and grants veto power to local officials for monuments over 10,000 acres. It caps monuments at 84,000 acres.

It also grants presidential authority to reduce the size of declared monuments, something the Trump administration is already engaged in studying.

Five GOP lawmakers released statements in favor of the HR3990 on Tuesday, including representatives from California, Colorado, Arizona and Arkansas.

"When Teddy Roosevelt created the Antiquities Act, his intent was to set aside unique areas of land, not to cutoff millions of acres for the federal government to control that produces no revenue or benefit – all while hurting local governments," said Rep. Doug LaMalfa of California.

A natural resources committee release said the bill "protects archeological (sic) resources while ensuring public transparency and accountability in the executive’s use of the Antiquities Act."

Conservation group Center for Western Priorities said under the rules of the bill -- used by 16 presidents by both parties -- nine of the 18 monuments protected by Roosevelt would have been illegal, including protecting the 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon from mining interests.

The group created a map that it says shows 180 prior uses of the Antiquities Act that would have been "extremely unlikely" or impossible if Bishop's bill had been law at the time. It claims Bishop is revising history in providing information about the Antiquity's Act.

It also said four of Utah's "mighty five" national parks, that drive economic activity in Utah were created by the act: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Zion National Park.

Wednesday's committee meeting is below.

The bill was introduced to committee Wednesday, after Trump's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that four large national monuments in the West be reduced in size, potentially opening hundreds of thousands of acres to mining and logging, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase monuments in Utah.