This opinion piece from The Wall Street Journal sums up the positive direction land use policymaking appears to be headed:
“Federal land grabs have hampered resource development, and Mr. Trump could advance his pro-growth agenda by unlocking millions of acres.”
The Arizona Chamber Foundation has produced two papers on this topic that are worth revisiting as the administration sets about a review of how previous administrations have used – or abused – their powers under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
First, check out this January 2016 paper, The Proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument: A Monumental Mistake?
Produced along with our friends at the Prosper Foundation, our analysis centers on President Obama’s proposed designation of 1.7 million acres of northern Arizona as the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.
The paper looked at the president’s reliance on the over-100-year-old Antiquities Act to make what would amount to a Grand Canyon land grab. Most of Arizona north of the Grand Canyon and a significant area between the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park and Flagstaff stood to be affected.
Thankfully, Arizona dodged a bullet when the administration’s term ended without making the designation. We’re pleased that our research helped inform the vocal opposition that the proposal received from our congressional delegation and from stakeholders throughout Arizona.
Our Foundation and Prosper Foundation also produced this paper last December, The Arizona Wilderness Act of 1984: The Gold Standard of Stakeholder Consensus, which looked at how land management ought to be done.
The assessment is that the historic 1984 Arizona Wilderness Act, which designated over 1.1 million acres of wilderness near the Grand Canyon and, at the same time, released 540,000 acres of federal land for multiple use, including mining and grazing, in adjacent non-wilderness areas, is the example policymakers at all levels should look to when contemplating land use regulations.
The agreement that was struck over 30 years ago was bipartisan and included the buy-in of a broad coalition of stakeholders, from ranchers to environmentalists. Such consensus building might seem the byproduct of a time long since passed, but today’s leaders could accomplish much by aspiring to the same level of earnestness that was on display during those now historic negotiations.
A fresh review of national monument designations is well worth the effort. We’d expect that Congress and the administration will learn that land policy is best crafted by those closest to the land in question, not by the federal bureaucracy.