Public Land Conflicts and Controversies: The Designation of National Monuments in the Western United States
New research describes the history and purpose of Western public lands, with an emphasis on the relationship—and controversies—between rural communities and the federal government in an economic context.
Public lands can provide a wide range of environmental benefits. Granting protective status to these lands generally imposes restrictions on resource development and extraction activities and thus often generates conflict and debate among public and private stakeholders. In the United States, this is especially the case for national monuments, which are areas that contain significant historic, prehistoric, cultural, and/or geologic resources. In this article, I describe the controversy surrounding national monument designations, particularly in the western United States. I describe the history and status of national monuments, discuss the evidence concerning the benefits and costs of national monuments and other protected lands, and examine public land conflicts in the U.S. west in the context of economic trends in rural communities. I conclude with a discussion of the future outlook for national monuments and public lands in the United States.
Media Highlight — Jul 19, 2022
WyoFile: "Antiquities Act and the Wyoming-Sized Legal Loophole"
An opinion piece arguing in favor of creating new national monuments in Wyoming cites RFF research about the economic benefits of national monument designation.
Media Highlight — Apr 7, 2022
Washington Post: "A Pivotal Period: Century-Old State Park Systems Face Modern Issues"
Senior Fellow Margaret Walls is quoted five times in a story about the challenges facing state parks.