Press Release

RFF’s Margaret Walls on the Gathering Storm over Public Lands

Apr 25, 2016

WASHINGTON—Resources for the Future (RFF) Senior Fellow Margaret Walls has written a new blog post:The Storm Gathering over Public Lands.

In it, she notes that US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell recently gave a speech on the future of conservation and public lands in this country, in which she cited the Antiquities Act—a piece of federal legislation unfamiliar to many Americans. As Walls warns, it is part of a gathering storm over America’s public lands management.

Specifically, the Antiquities Act grants the president the authority to designate existing federal lands as national monuments. The sore point for some is that it gives the president power to bypass Congress and unilaterally designate national monuments. This has led to calls for repealing the act that often come from private property rights activists and the Tea Party. A private lobbying group already has developed model legislation for states to use to press for a transfer of federal lands to state ownership, and dozens of bills have been introduced in western state legislatures, Walls notes.

Walls responds that the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service this summer should serve as an opportunity to draw much-needed attention to these issues. She notes that in Jewell’s speech last week, the secretary emphasized the effectiveness of an “epic collaboration” among stakeholders that resulted in the recent sage grouse endangered species listing decision. Jewell called this “the model for the future of conservation.” Walls states, “This could also be the model for the big issues facing America’s public lands—and we need to get started.”

Read the full post: The Storm Gathering Over Public Lands.

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Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, DC, that conducts rigorous economic research and analysis to improve environmental and natural resource policy.