Our Treasure, Our Future – Gold Butte National Monument

National Monuments Review Sample Comment Scripts for the Savvy Citizen.

 Protect Gold Butte National Monument

ACTION ALERT: public comment period open for Interior Department’s National Monuments Review–Submit Comments for Bears Ears before May 26, 2017; all others before July 10, 2017. Click here to submit:  Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996

The following is a sample comment submission. Please do not cut and paste!  Edit the script to make it your own and add personal commentary.  These scripts are designed to inform and are for inspiration and ideas! For ideas on how to write a strong submission, click here: “Suggested Outline or “Hot Topic” Review List for Comments.” 

 Protect Gold Butte National Monument – Sample Script for Friday, May 19, 2017:

I oppose any change in the status or protection of Gold Butte National Monument. The monument meets the requirements and original objectives of the Antiquities Act, including the Act’s requirement that reservations of land not exceed “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected”:

  • Gold Butte includes significant cultural resources, including ancient Paiute rock art, and archaeological assets such as remains of agave roasting pits, projectile points, and rock shelters, as well as pioneer-era structures (1).
  • Among the wildlife found in Gold Butte are the threatened Mojave desert tortoise, a leopard frog thought until recently to be extinct, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions (1).
  • The monument fills a public-lands gap between Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, creating a continuous conservation area.

The Proclamation establishing the monument allows for continuation of mixed uses within Gold Butte, including hunting and fishing (2).  BLM anticipates no additional road closures beyond those already in place before the proclamation; mining and grazing were already restricted before the proclamation (1).  In short, no significant loss of access for legal human use is caused by Gold Butte’s monument status.

The resources of Gold Butte are critically in need of protection.

  • Looting, vandalism, and damaging off-road vehicle use have been significant problems, including “including dismantled historic corrals and fences, felled Joshua trees and petroglyphs peppered with bullet holes.” (3).
  • “Due to adverse circumstances [the BLM stand-off with Cliven Bundy], the BLM and all federal land management agencies halted on-the-ground activities in the Gold Butte area from April 2014 to June 2016. In the absence of a land management presence, Friends of Gold Butte (FoGB) has witnessed an increasing level of damage near historic and cultural sites as well as disturbance to sensitive desert areas that are habitat for threatened and endangered species (4).” 
  • Following the Cliven Bundy incident, “the area is marred by off-road tire tracks and trash. Twenty-two miles of illegal irrigation have been trenched through the desert, and a chopped-down Joshua tree was left to rot.”Bundy continued to graze his cattle on the land, without paying more than $1 million owed in fees and fines—money owed to the American taxpayer (5). Without the ongoing and consistent oversight afforded national monuments, Gold Butte’s resources will be damaged or lost.

As a biologist, I am particularly supportive of the wildlife corridor that Gold Butte provides, linking the adjacent conserved public lands.  Wildlife corridors mitigate loss of genetic diversity, allowing mixing among wildlife populations otherwise isolated by fragmented habitat and allow for other healthy ecosystem processes to continue (6). 

64% of Nevadans surveyed supported the creation of Gold Butte National Monument (7).  The local Moapa Paiute people—whose reservation once included Gold Butte—support the monument, in part because it will give them significant say in the management of their ancestral lands, a reasonable desire in light of tribal sovereignty and treaty rights (5). Earlier this month, both houses of the Nevada State Legislature passed Resolution AJR 13, expressing support for Gold Butte National Monument (8).  I join all these groups in opposing any change to Gold Butte’s monument status.

Contributor: Melinda Mueller, Seattle, Washington

SOURCES:          

(1)    http://www.hcn.org/articles/the-many-questions-of-gold-butte

(2)    https://www.reviewjournal.com/sports/sports-columns/in-the-outdoors/gold-butte-proclamation-still-allows-hunting-fishing-in-area/

(3)    https://wilderness.org/new-gold-butte-national-monument-preserves-culture-and-wildlands

(4)    http://www.friendsofgoldbutte.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Gold-Butte-Damage-Report-2016-FINAL-Redacted.pdf

(5)    http://www.hcn.org/articles/a-look-at-gold-butte-nevada-two-years-after-the-cliven-bundy-standoff

(6)    http://www.esa.org/esablog/ecology-in-policy/habitat-corridors-help-preserve-wildlife-in-the-midst-of-human-society/

(7)    https://www.coloradocollege.edu/other/stateoftherockies/conservationinthewest/2017/2017WesternStatesInterviewScheduleNevada.pdf

(8)    http://www.friendsofgoldbutte.org/

 

Photo: Photo of Gold Butte National Monument; Sept. 2016. U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Public Domain

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