Our Treasure, Our Future – Mojave Trails National Monument

National Monuments Review Sample Comment Scripts for the Savvy Citizen.

 Protect Mojave Trails National Monument

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

The following is a sample comment submission preceded by background information. Please do not cut and paste the comment script!  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.” 

Background

 (From Wikipedia) “Mojave Trails National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located in the state of California between Interstates 15 and 40. It partially surrounds the Mojave National Preserve. The focal point of the new preserve is the remote and nearly pristine Cadiz Dunes that formed from the sand of dry lake beds.[2] It was designated by President Obama on February 12, 2016 along with Castle Mountains National Monument and Sand to Snow National Monument.[3] It is under the control of the Bureau of Land Management.”

(From the BLM web site on the monument) “Spanning 1.6 million acres, more than 350,000 acres of previously congressionally-designated Wilderness, the Mojave Trails National Monument is comprised of a stunning mosaic of rugged mountain ranges, ancient lava flows, and spectacular sand dunes.

The monument will protect irreplaceable historic resources including ancient Native American trading routes, World War II-era training camps, and the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of Route 66. Additionally, the area has been a focus of study and research for decades, including geological research and ecological studies on the effects of climate change and land management practices on ecological communities and wildlife.”

Protect Mojave Trails National Monument – Sample Script by Guest Contributor M.M. for Friday, June 9, 2017:

I am writing to support the continued status of Mojave Trails as a national monument.  As the BLM web-page remarks, the monument protects “irreplaceable historic resources including ancient Native American trading routes, World War II-era training camps, and the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of Route 66. Additionally, the area has been a focus of study and research for decades, including geological research and ecological studies on the effects of climate change and land management practices on ecological communities and wildlife.” (1)

These characteristics well qualify this monument under the Antiquities Act, as a valuable and unique national heritage.  350,000 acres of the monument were already congressionally designated wilderness (2).

Mojave Trails National Monument includes unique heritage assets (3 and 4):

  • A National Natural Landmark: Lava flows of Amboy Crater, North America’s youngest volcano;
  • 550 million-year-old trilobite fossil beds in the Marble Mountains;
  • Sleeping Beauty Valley—the only intact valley representing the West Mojave plant ecosystem;
  • A wildlife corridor connecting two adjacent Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve and 13 wilderness areas, providing additional habitat for bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and other wildlife.
  • Sand dune ecosystems, including the Cadiz Dunes.
  • Unique plant life, including one of California’s richest “cactus gardens.”
  • The longest undeveloped stretch of historic Route 66.
  • Cultural, historical and archaeological assets of importance to local tribal communities.

Economic considerations: (3 and 4)

  • The stretch of Route 66 is a draw to thousands of tourists, benefitting nearby communities. Monument status preserves and enhances this asset.
  • The monument designation also preserves and enhances access for hiking, camping, hunting, mountain-biking, and fossil and rock-hunting, and other recreational uses.
  • The monument is within a 2-hour drive of urban areas with populations totaling 16 million people. 
  • Grazing allotments will continue to be available.
  • “Small businesses located near monuments say they will suffer from any change in designation. The recreation economy derived from outdoor activity such as wildlife watching, hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, bike riding and motorized sports generates more than 7 million jobs in the United States and $887 billion in consumer spending, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.” (5)

The primary drive for de-listing these national monuments seems to be to open them to extractive uses such as mining, and drilling for oil or gas.  These do NOT benefit American taxpayers or local economies to a degree that compensates for their costs:

  • According to a 2009 report from the Pew Charitable Trust, US taxpayers stood to lose $1.6 billion dollars over the course of 10 years, from mining on public lands.  “The report links the revenue loss to outdated policies that subsidize the mining of gold, uranium and other metals on federal public lands.” (6)
  • From the same report: “According to the Congressional Budget Office, approximately $1 billion in non-coal metals are taken from federal lands each year. Under the 1872 mining law, these minerals are extracted without royalty or rental payments.” (6)
  • “For decades, the minimum bid to lease public land for fossil fuel production has beenjust $2 an acre. Annual rental fees, which companies pay to hold and explore federal lands before production, are just as low. And the royalty rate for oil and gas produced onshore has remained at just 12.5 percent since 1920. Those bargain prices give private companies a windfall while depriving American taxpayers of a fair return from energy production.” (7)
  • Revenues from mining, gas, and oil extraction do not compensate for lost tourism dollars and other revenue streams harmed by commercial activities that degrade public lands ecosystems and limit access to the publicJobs in the recreation industry outnumber those in the mining industries by 10 to 1 (8).

Sources:

(1)    https://www.blm.gov/nlcs_web/sites/ca/st/en/prog/nlcs/Mojave_Trails

(2)    https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/12/fact-sheet-president-obama-designate-new-national-monuments-california

(3)    http://californiadesert.org/project/mojave-trails-national-monument/

(4)    http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/california_national_monuments/

(5)    http://www.sbsun.com/environment-and-nature/20170509/worried-mojave-desert-national-monuments-could-be-de-listed-heres-how-to-comment-on-trumps-review

(6)    http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/news-room/press-releases/2009/01/27/report-finds-mining-subsidies-cost-taxpayers-billions

(7)    https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/06/16/oil-companies-are-drilling-on-public-land-for-the-price-of-a-cup-of-coffee-heres-why-that-should-change/?utm_term=.fccb52319f89

(8)    https://www.kinshipfellows.org/resources/assessing-the-economic-value-of-public-lands

 

Photo: Mojave Trails National Monument. February, 14, 2014. NASA.

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