Tipton Highlights Value of Colorado’s National Monuments, Need for Local Input on Land Designations
On October 11, 2017, the House Natural Resources Committee reported out of the committee H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act. Prior to voting to report the bill, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) spoke about the value of Colorado’s National Monuments and the need for transparency and local input in the land designation process.
Tipton’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman for bringing this bill before the committee today. I believe that when considering this bill, it is important to examine the ways that Antiquities Act designations have changed since 1906. When President Teddy Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act, he made 18 designations for a combined total of 1.5 million acres. All of these designations were in the spirit of the law. Fast forward to 2016, when we saw the Obama Administration use the Antiquities Act 37 times to designate 553.6 million acres of land and water.
It can be argued that some of these designations were in the spirit of the law, like Chimney Rock National Monument, a 4,700 acre National Monument in my district that I supported in the 112th Congress. Chimney Rock had broad local support, and the bill that I introduced to designate it through the legislative process even passed the House unanimously. When it stalled in the Senate, we requested that the president use the Antiquities Act.
Unfortunately, more and more, we see the Antiquities Act used outside of its intended purpose, which has limited critical local input and meaningful conversations about the impact a National Monument designation may have on the surrounding community.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that your bill emphasizes the importance of local voices, and I think it is critical that the president has the ability to make an Emergency National Monument designation when there simply is not enough time to work through the environmental review, local approval or legislative process.
I understand that you are open to working with members of this committee as this bill moves forward through the legislative process. The Coloradans I represent value our National Monuments, from their breathtaking beauty to the positive economic impact they have on our communities. I do not believe that reforming the Antiquities Act to bring it back to its intended purpose, and protecting public lands and national treasures, are mutually exclusive. We can do both. I look forward to working with you and other members of the committee on this bill.