Lawmaker: Monuments a matter for public

The Bureau of Land Management’s plans to use a century-old law to protect federal lands from development isn’t what some Colorado lawmakers quite wanted.

According to an internal BLM report released this month, the bureau may consider using a presidential power under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate national monuments on large chunks of government-owned land if Congress fails to protect them, or they face an immediate threat.

That’s why recent legislation introduced into Congress by U.S. Rep. John Salazar and Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, all Colorado Democrats, calls for more public involvement before BLM land can be declared national monuments, their offices said.

While Salazar has introduced H.R. 5223 to designate Chimney Rock in Archuleta County as a national monument, Bennet has sponsored a Senate version, S. 3303, also known as the Chimney Rock National Monument Act of 2010. Both have the support of the local community and many organizations in southwest Colorado, officials in Salazar’s Washington, D.C., office said Tuesday.

Bennet believes such protective land designations should come with local support, his office said.

The same public involvement is called for in Bennet’s Chimney Rock bill, and the San Juan Mountain Wilderness Act that he introduced with Udall, officials in the senators’ offices said. “This proposal cannot be dictated from Washington,” Udall said in a statement.

“It should be seen as the start of a conversation with local communities and stakeholders on what makes sense for managing public lands that are, after all, in Colorado’s backyard.”


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