URGENT LEGISLATIVE ALERT: Congress Introduces Bill to Help Prevent Road Closures, Ensure Public Participation When Designating National Monuments
SEMA Action Network
April 17, 2013
Legislation (HR 1459) has been introduced in the U.S. Congress to require the President to complete an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before designating more than 5,000 acres as a National Monument. The bill would ensure public involvement in the process and discussion of multiple factors including economic impact. Current law provides the President with authority to declare land of “historic or scientific interest” to be a National Monument which can lead to road closures for motorized recreation, among other activities. While this authority has only been used 137 times in 100 years, vast amounts of land have been set aside in the process. SEMA and the SEMA Action Network support a collaborative approach to land-use decisions, including input from local citizens, elected leaders and other stakeholders.
We Urge You to Contact Your U.S. Representatives Today to Urge Their Support for H.R. 1459
Under the law, the President can designate monuments through Executive Order without input from the local community.
H.R. 1459 would ensure that local recreation enthusiasts are included in the decision-making process for any National Monument over 5,000 acres. The bill would require an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Monuments of smaller sizes would not require a NEPA review, but would expire after 3 years if not ratified by Congress.
H.R. 1459 limits the President to one monument designation per state, per four-year term. Any additional designations would be subject to approval by the U.S. Congress.
H.R. 1459 ensures a more collaborate public approach to land use decisions and would include a discussion on the positive economic impact of motorized recreation activities, which accounts for over $257 million in annual economic impact nationwide.
In 1996, President Clinton set aside 1.9 million acres of land in Southern Utah as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. President Obama is now under pressure to establish a 1.4 million acres “Greater Canyonlands National Monument,” closing 1,050 of off-road vehicle trails and monitoring another 1,450 miles for future closure.
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