LAS VEGAS – In response to Senator Dean Heller’s statement to the Las Vegas Review Journal that there may be reductions to the Gold Butte National Monument boundary, Jaina Moan of the Friends of Gold Butte released the following statement in response to this rumored illegal action:
“Any reductions to the Gold Butte National Monument made through an Executive Order would be illegal and unacceptable to the thousands of Nevadans who have fought to protect the area for more than a decade. We believe the President does not have the authority to modify boundaries, and are ready to challenge this matter in court.
Rumored reductions for Gold Butte National Monument are a disappointing conclusion to a sham review process. It is also disappointing that the exact recommendations being made to President Trump have been shared with some and not others. The people who own the land—the American public and Nevadans who Senator Heller represents–have a right to know how their land is being managed.
If the rumors are accurate, there would be nothing to gain by redrawing the boundaries to remove the springs from the monument. In fact, such a revision would remove the explicit acknowledgement of the water rights and rights of way provided in the Gold Butte National Monument proclamation language. Regardless of the monument designation, the springs are located on federal land that is administratively managed as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) to protect critical habitat for the Mojave desert tortoise, a living antiquity threatened with extinction. Any development to the springs on the Virgin Mountains would need to undergo an extensive National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review whether it occurs within or outside of the monument boundaries.”
ABOUT THE MONUMENTS REVIEW: Earlier this year, President Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced an executive order directing the Department of the Interior to review public lands that have been protected under the Antiquities Act since 1996. Nevada’s National Monuments, Gold Butte and Basin & Range, are part of this review. Nationally, more than 2.7 million comments (more than 90,000 on Gold Butte and Basin & Range specifically) poured in during the Interior Department’s 60-day comment period – a record-breaking response. More than 98 percent of all comments received expressed support for maintaining or expanding national monuments. Although the results of the review were due August 24th, President Trump and Secretary Zinke have yet to publicly announce the results of those finding to the American people.