"The announcement made by the White House today declaring Gold Butte a National Monument puts an exclamation point on President Obama's shameful legacy of ignoring the will of communities in the American West. By locking up more than a quarter million acres of southeastern Nevada, this Administration is sending an unmistakable message to rural Nevadans: 'You have no voice. And there's nothing you can do about it.'
"After a change election that saw the forgotten people of America's heartland soundly reject governance by executive fiat, it is frustrating to see the outgoing Administration abuse the Antiquities Act as it clings to power in its waning days. Instead of engaging with communities and allowing our elected representatives to vote on the merits of such a declaration, the president decreed his latest monument from the distant sands of a Hawaiian beach at a time when most Nevadans are celebrating the Holidays with their families, none the wiser.
"For decades now, Western states have been steamrolled by Washington bureaucrats who bend federal statutes to suit their extreme agendas, no matter the economic consequences. These political machinations disenfranchise millions of Americans and further divide the country. It needs to stop.
"In the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to working with President-elect Trump and our allies in Congress on an aggressive slate of legislative reforms that will empower Western communities to serve as effective stewards of the public lands they call home."
“Nevada has more public land managed by the federal government than any other state in the lower 48, and any new designation of those lands is most successful when implemented under a thorough, public process. The use of the Antiquities Act in designating Gold Butte as a National Monument bypassed Congress and the public. I believe our Congressional delegation should have had a primary role in working to build consensus as has been accomplished successfully in the past.
“At the same time, I recognized the inevitability of this designation and therefore met and talked with leaders from Mesquite, land owners, stakeholders and special user groups on this specific issue to try and address their concerns. I also visited the site and saw a beautiful part of Nevada with many special features, including extraordinary petroglyphs, slot canyons and unique rock formations.
“Following these discussions and the tour, I met with the White House to present these concerns, and my staff held follow-up meetings to address a number of issues including changing the proposed boundary to eliminate all private land to protect the interests of Mesquite and allow the city to continue to develop and grow as a municipality. We also worked with the White House and Department of Interior to ensure Nevada water law is adhered to and that the Virgin Valley Water District would have access to its water infrastructure for continued development and maintenance. Additionally, we worked to guarantee that the designated area would still be open for recreation, hunting, and multiple-use activities, including OHV trail riding, currently enjoyed by Nevadans and tourists alike. I also requested that a robust working group be established to develop the management plan that includes all voices.
“My priority was to mitigate any disruption a potential designation may cause the surrounding private land owners, communities and recreationists. We all share a common goal of enacting smart conservation measures which help preserve our lands for the use and enjoyment of all Nevadans. My strong preference is for a more collaborative process when making such an important designation. I firmly believe our ranchers, environmentalists, and community stakeholders are the best experts in ensuring Nevada’s lands are preserved, protected and accessible. I also believe that with this designation comes duties, responsibilities and an expectation that the BLM will properly manage the area and commit the funds necessary to do so.”