US House Passes Amendment to Prevent Owyhee National Monument

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Katie Aguilera

On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 2822, an appropriation bill for the Department of Interior by a vote of 231-196.  Attached to the bill is an amendment that will prohibit the President from declaring certain areas National Monuments.  One of those areas is the Owyhee Canyonlands.

The amendment states:

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to make a Presidential declaration by public proclamation of a national monument under chapter 3203 of title 54, United States Code in the counties of Mohave and Coconino in the State of Arizona, in the counties of Modoc and Siskiyou in the State of California, in the counties of Chaffee, Moffat, and Park in the State of Colorado, in the counties of Lincoln, Clark, and Nye in the State of Nevada, in the county of Otero in the State of New Mexico, in the counties of Jackson, Josephine and, Malheur in the State of Oregon, or in the counties of Wayne, Garfield, and Kane in the State of Utah.

House Democrats attempted to remove the amendment from H.R. 2822 but were unsuccessful by a vote of 202-225.

On his website, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Or) states, “The President shouldn’t be able to lock up thousands of acres of federal land to all productive uses with just the stroke of his pen and no say from the people who are most affected. Some have identified the Owyhee Desert as a target for a national monument designation, and I have heard strong local opposition to such an action.”

According to this July 15, 2016 Argus Observer article, H.R. 2822 also includes a provision for “$480 million for payments in lieu of taxes, which provides money for county governments to offset losses in property taxes on federal land.  It will also delay “for at least one year further action on greater sage grouse and eliminates a proposed increase on grazing fees on federal land.”

That article goes on to say that the bill may face filibuster in the Senate, and President Obama has threatened to veto it if it passes the Senate in its current form.

You can read why I feel the Owyhee Canyonlands should not be declared a National Monument here.

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