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Mojave Trails National Monument order expected soon

Sunset at Roy's in Amboy

A declaration of a Mojave Trails National Monument that would include almost all of Route 66 from Needles to Barstow, California, is coming within days, according to a lengthy article by the San Francisco Chronicle.

For six years, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has tried to get such a Mojave Trails National Monument designation through Congress, but the legislation has stalled despite widespread support of it from Californians.

That leaves President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to invoke a 1906 law to declare the designation himself. The newspaper reported:

Within days, President Obama is expected to invoke the Antiquities Act, at Feinstein’s request, to create three national monuments preserving 1,380,350 acres of these lands, including a long stretch of Route 66. Republicans oppose the designation as executive overreach; they have proposed the same three monuments, but would open the Route 66 area to mining. […]

“To industrialize it, to tear it up, to abuse it, to rape it, would be a travesty,” said Jim Conkle, a former Marine known as Mr. Route 66. “People see the Mojave Desert as this vast wasteland. I see it as an ocean without water. There’s so much there. If we don’t take care of it, it’s gone forever.”

Obama began the process for the Mojave Trails National Monument presidential declaration in the fall by holding a public hearing.

U.S. Rep. Paul Cook proposed alternate legislation that would allow mining in the Mojave area, but it is opposed by two-thirds of Californians. Victorville recently declined to endorse Cook’s bill. An official with the Amargosa Conservancy called the bill “fundamentally out of step with the hopes and desires of desert residents and desert lovers from across the country.”

The criticism by Republicans of presidential overreach doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, as 14 of 19 presidents since the birth of the U.S. park system have used executive authority to declare national monuments, including the previous Republican president.

Backers of Feinstein’s proposal say the declaration would deliver a big economic boost to the area by bringing more tourists. Owners of businesses in Amboy and Ludlow undoubtedly would see a nice bump in visitors.

(Image of a sunset at Roy’s in Amboy, California, by Dave Reichert via Flickr)

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8 thoughts on “Mojave Trails National Monument order expected soon

  1. Jim Conkle

    I want to first set the record straight I do not refer to myself as Mr. Route 66. That does not mean that I can stop others from using the phrase. For those of you that have been with me when i am interviewed know I have never use that name.
    Now to the heart of this issue of the Monument, the Antiquities Act, those involved and the outcome.
    The Monument was first named The Mother Road National Monument and later we called it the Mother Road/Mojave Trails National Monument, a name many of us will always call it. The bill, as also Congressman Cook’s bill, address issues in the desert that we all agree are important. Time is not on our side and we need this done now.
    The president’s use of the Antiquities Act might not be popular with some folks yet it within the law and has worked in the past.
    For those of use involved with Senator Feinstein, her staff and other supporters, many of us for over 8 years, we have helped draft the bill. Workng together, bringing every stake holder to the table, the bill as it now reads makes all of us proud to be a part of the process.
    There are no gates, fences, tolls or other restrictions going to be placed at any of these monuments. There will be new and enforceable laws to protect this land. Land by the way that is owned by every American NOT the government, the BLM are the current caretakers and will continue with support from the public.
    It might appear to some that our elected representatives, on all levels, do not agree on protecting the desert. This is not true and once the monuments are declared we will all work together to make them successful.

  2. DynoDave

    “That leaves President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to invoke a 1906 law to declare the designation himself.”

    That, or he could respect the will of the people as seen through their elected representatives, and NOT use his executive authority to….

    He has a couple of options.

    1. Ron Warnick Post author

      Of course, there is an admittedly obstructionist Congress that has demonstrably ignored the will of the people. If a president has a century-old law — passed by Congress, no less — that allows him to declare a national monument, no one should get upset if he avails himself of it.

      1. delhawk

        The Antiquities Act no longer serves its original purpose, and federal ownership of land has taken management control away from states and local interests. The result has been environmental degradation of America’s national monuments and parks, billions of dollars in maintenance backlogs, lost economic opportunity, and concentration of power in Washington. Congress should repeal the Antiquities Act and transfer land management decisions to the states. At the very least, any national monument designation should require congressional approval and approval by the state(s) where the proposed national monument would be located, but in the case of the Mojave National Monument, if California wants it, then California should make the designation and own it. What’s wrong with that? Use of the Antiquities Act in this case is just a circumvention of Congress. it has been abused by both Republican and Democrat Presidents.

      2. Ron Warnick Post author

        Repealing the Antiquities Act will never happen, because Americans love their national parks and Congress knows it.

        And, again, your original argument about constitutionality doesn’t wash. The Antiquities Act repeatedly has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

  3. delhawk

    I appreciate the desert and preserving the route of the Mother Road and have driven sections of it several times. With that being said, what I don’t like is further encroachment of the Federal government into state issues. In the article, it was stated that Feinstein’s bill has “wide spread support among Californians” and that Rep. Cook’s bill which includes provisions for mining is “opposed by two-thirds of Californians”. My suggestion is that California designate it a state monument and remove control from the BLM, that way those that live in California and specifically those that live in the desert along the route can have it their way and the rest of us won’t have to pay for it. The problem with the current President is that if he can’t get his way, he finds away to circumvent the Constitution and in this case he is being aided and abetted by the California delegation led by Sen. Feinstein.

    1. Ron Warnick Post author

      There is nothing unconstitutional about Obama or any other president designating lands as national monuments. There is no case law suggesting it is circumventing the Constitution at all. If there was, the 1906 law would have been challenged long before now.

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