On Monuments and fish and public lands

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. 

For me, all of these things are encompassed by the public lands where I go to feel alive, to be happy, and to feel true liberty and freedom. There is no freedom like the freedom to go. 


Yesterday morning the President signed a proclamation reducing Bears Ears and Staircase Escalante National monuments. Word is the administration is considering reduction or elimination of other monuments, including Cascade Siskiyou, Katahdin Woods and Waters, and Rio Grande Del Norte.
Rio Grande del Norte is a place that shaped me. It is a place where I have hunted and fished and camped and hiked and known the kind of freedom that makes you laugh out loud on a solo hike across an empty landscape. Rio Grande del Norte came to be in 2013, the product of a presidential designation that came only after congress failed to act.

The designation ensured not only the permanent protection of the place, but also of the historic uses of hunting, fishing, gathering, and grazing. The land belonged to all Americans before the proclamation, and continued to do so after. Access remained.

Those who tell you monument designations are “land grabs” are either uneducated, or full of shit. The truth is, monuments are protections put onto existing public lands to preserve the lands as they are and keep them available for public use.

Those who claim “lost access” are either too lazy to get out of their car when the road ends and walk, or full of shit. The truth is, monuments remain open to hunting, fishing and public access.

Those who tell you that sportsmen – or the American public as a whole – benefit from the dismantling of national monuments are either deliberately misleading you, or full of shit. The truth is, the only reason to dismantle monument protections is to allow those public lands to be drilled, mined, or sold.

I read the proclamation on Bears Ears and Staircase Escalante released this yesterday. If you cut through the bullshit, just skip past all the “whereas,” right down the to “now therefore shall it be resolved” section, you’ll see the meat of the thing.

…the public lands excluded from the monument reservation shall be open to:

(1) entry, location, selection, sale or other disposition under the public land laws;
(2) disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing; and
(3) location, entry, and patent under the mining laws…”
These newly unprotected lands still belong to the American public, just like they did before and after the designations. The only change is that now they can be sold, drilled and mined. When the president says, Our precious natural treasures will be protected and they, from now on, will be protected…”
What he actually meant is that the lands you could hunt and fish and explore when they were part of Bears Ears or Staircase Escalante, are now eligible for sale, strip mining and oil and gas development.

They are trying to take Bears Ears and Staircase, so don’t think they won’t come for your places too.

Stand up for National Monuments.

29 thoughts on “On Monuments and fish and public lands”

  1. After reading this screed the only person “full of Shit” here is Greg McReynolds. If he doesn’t like the fact that the sitting President of United States has taken an action he thinks is wrong he can act and try to get others to act. Name calling those of us who like the fact that we can drive to a destination to hunt, hike, or fish is a pretty low blow. I wonder if the Kool-Aid stains show up on his shirt. He as well as many of us have benefitted from public access to public lands. These Democratic Presents who throw a bone to the “lock it up” groups as they leave office and face no threat of political retaliation have made a joke of “multiple use” of public lands. Ask yourself, how many public lands you use have been sold off? Oil and gas development as well as mining are a part of multiple use and we all benefit from the revenue as well as the access these activities create. Those of us who subscribe to MOF are mainly interested in bird hunting. I see a recent shift toward political bents in these posts that does not unite us.

    1. If companies wanted to drill or strip mine Bears Ears they could have easily done so already. It’s only been under protection for a year. The Native American tribes that think that their land is being taken from them again are being misled by a lobbying group disguised as a clothing company spreading a leftist agenda disguised as love for the outdoors. The problem is communication between the administration and the American people. Unfortunately Trump and Co. won’t get an audience to explain their reasoning even if they wanted to. The saddest part of this entire situation is the we are so divided is by party line that we can’t stop for a minute to hear what the other side has to say. The knee jerk reaction to someone with a differing opinion is to call the other side full of shit and completely dismiss what they say. Maybe if we just listened to each other we may find that we are all Americans that love our country.

      1. Grant, your point about name calling is fair. I will take it into consideration. Though, if you’re a regular reader of MOF, you’ll know that we (and myself in particular) give nearly everyone a hard time. If there are people we’ve missed, it’s only because we haven’t had time.
        Let me ask you a question. What do sportsmen get out of the revocation of national monument protections? As far as I can tell, it’s just a few more unprotected places. But if you have something else, I’d love to hear it.

        1. To the best of my knowledge, the park service has but one goal: protect the park from the public. I would rather deal with the BLM or Forest Service who believe in multiple use than in the park service. Please Greg, ride that horse into federal land or walk in instead of using that oil well road to gain access. You have insulted me and many readers of this blog by calling us pieces of shit. While I can understand your concern over what happed today sit back and take a deep breath, Congress isn’t going to allow these Federal Lands to be sold off because they are no longer a National Monument. Come down to Arizona and shoot a few quail to ease your pain this winter. All things pass.

          1. Mark, the monuments I’m talking about are not run by the park service, but rather the BLM. I’ll likely be in AZ or NM in January. Maybe I’ll buy you a beer. FYI, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an O&G road in southern AZ. I have seen some mines that ruined some pretty quail country though.
            P.S. I said “full of shit”, as in bullshitting, saying things that are not true, etc.

        2. I appreciate your response and thank you for allowing a healthy debate. As far as I can see sportsmen get nothing out of the shrinking of the monument land. We also don’t lose anything either until the land actually gets leased. As I said earlier, if it hasn’t been leased yet, there’s probably a good chance it won’t be now. Especially after the PR nightmare that will ensue for any company that decides to purchase acreage in the wake of this debate.

          1. I own a home in Alaska and Arizona. If the Alaska Pipeline, the lifeblood of Alaska, were proposed today the outcry from the left would be greater than in the 1970’s. Look online, there were biologists saying that wolves and foxes would kill their young in the dens if the pipeline were built. Today, there are more Caribou and Wolves on the North Slope than before the pipeline was built. All I am saying is that we don’t need more National Monuments. And the Park Service cannot care for the Monuments we now have due to limited budgets. We have National Public Lands and the BLM and Forest Service can care for them under multiple use unlike the mindset of the park service. The debate goes on: more land locked up or open to multiple use.

    2. Wait a second, Mark. You asked how much Public land has been sold off? Really? 75%, actually. So far 156 Million acres has been transferred to State Ownership; and of that 156 Million acres the states have already sold off around 120 million acres. Do the math, man.

  2. I tend to agree with Mark Stafford. It’s pretty clear that McReynolds hasn’t done his homework on monuments — most of which change little from a public use standpoint, except (mostly) banning mining. What they CAN do is restrict public access, depending on the managers’ whims.

    Here in California hunting was banned in the Castle Mountains National Monument, a little-known, little-discussed spot by the so-called sportsmen’s groups and guys like McReynolds. Because the management was given to the National Park Service (instead of the BLM, which had managed it before), the superintendent of the Mojave National Preserve decided hunting was now banned on the property. Odd decision considering that the adjoining Mojave Preserve IS open to hunting. On the Carrizo Plain National Monument (also in California), major roads have been closed (for no apparent reason) and access to and maintenance of guzzlers (man-made wildlife water catchments and storage, for those of you who don’t know) has become problematic since the monument designation.

    McReynolds buys into the environmental fundraising feeding frenzy caused by the Trump Administration. Their claims are usually exaggerated suggestions of what could happen to monument land once it reverts back to BLM or USFS service, the same as it was before (where nothing bad had happened yet). Frequently they lie and say the worst-case scenario WILL happen. If sportsmen and real conservationists take the time to read the actual Zinke report (here: https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/uploads/revised_final_report.pdf) instead of snippets cherry-picked and couched in bias, they’d realize Zinke is not the environmental antichrist. In fact, he wants to open more places (and has) to hunting and fishing that are closed for all the wrong reasons.

    But as 40-plus year outdoor reporter and advocate for hunting, fishing, and public lands, I’m apparently full of shit.

    1. ODwriter, thanks for dropping by. I am aware of the Castle Mountains issue, though as you note, that is a Park Service Monument, while the three I mentioned are run by the BLM. I guess my question for you is, what did sportsmen get out of the removal of monument protections? It’s pretty clear what industry got, but I don’t see a benefit to hunters and anglers.
      Second question, if the administration is really looking out for everyday Americans, hunters, and anglers, why did they remove protection from mineral exploration at Bears Ears, Escalante and others, but leave the restrictions you mentioned on hunting at Castle Mountain?

  3. There will always be places to drive to. There will only ever be fewer and fewer places you can’t. How many public lands have been sold off? Utah hosts several auctions a year to sell off State land. If you’re into bird hunting around oil rigs you probably aren’t in the right place, and MOF ain’t for you.

    1. I was speaking about Federal Lands as you well know. If your state sells off it’s land do something about it. As for bird hunting around oil wells one must assume you have never hunted sage grouse in Wyoming. It is the access roads, not the well pads, I refer to, and you knew that when you replied. I say to all who read this: If you don’t like multiple use and want to lock up more federal land, park that truck at the forest or BLM boundary, like Greg must do, and walk in to hunt or fish. Don’t use the roads built for resource development, it will kill your soul. Monuments may allow hunting and fishing but there will be restrictions on the access, roads and first and foremost two tracks will be closed. The restrictions on Monuments get worse every year. The park service cannot keep up the parks and monuments we have now and Dem Presidents keep adding more. How much land locked up for the few is enough? When is the last time we had a President who tried to accomplish exactly what he said during the campaign? Not in my lifetime and I am in my 60’s. People get on with it.

      1. FYI, I use FS and BLM roads, but little annoys me more than people pioneering roads and driving sketchy two tracks across places I like to hunt. And I’ve driven a lot of roads in National Monuments to hunt and fish.
        Mark, I’m genuinely interest. What specifically do you mean by “restrictions on Monuments get worse every year”? Do you have a specific monument you are referencing?

  4. Mark,

    Thanks for dropping by. I know you’ve been reading for a long time. I appreciate your thoughts and I’ll answer your questions.
    I have seen a fair amount of public lands sold off. Mostly state lands.
    I have also seen places that I used to hunt and fish get mined and drilled. And now those places aren’t multiple use anymore. There are a couple of mines within an hour of my house that used to be great fishing, blue grouse and elk hunting. Those mines cover sections of land and won’t be good for anything for a few thousand years, maybe longer.
    So with that in mind, I think multiple use means that we do not have to mine, drill and pillage every single public acre. In fact, I would say the very definition of multiple use means that we leave some areas protected from extractive uses.
    Now if I’m wrong on one of the points I made, please point it out. If you can explain to me how protecting a place that already belongs to the American people is a “land grab” I’ll hear you out.
    If Bears Ears or Staircase or Rio Grande del Norte prevented hunting or fishing or public access, show me where.
    If you have a compelling case about how allowing mining and oil and gas development in some of the very few public acres where they are not already allowed helps hunters and anglers, I’ll listen.
    And you’re right. I am getting more political. It’s because places that I care about – places that I want to show my kids some day – are under direct threat.
    I love upland hunting, I love public lands. I think reasonable protections for lands that belong to the American people, including my children, are not too much to ask.
    If I have said something factually incorrect, please enlighten me.

    1. Just because I don’t agree with your position I and others are not full of shit. If you don’t like mineral exploration on public lands big deal. I don’t like the changes to the Montana access laws that now require landowner permission that may entail finding a non-resident landowner. When you don’t like something work to change it. Otherwise it is called “bitching” and nobody likes to hear it. Reasonable protections sound like the gun control crowd who say they only want “reasonable” gun control but really want a foot in the door for banning all guns. We have had over 100 years of monuments and still the cry is for more. Factually, I am not a piece of shit because I differ from you opinions. No Federal public lands have been sold because of this act. I fear you doth protest too much.

      1. Mark, I think you might want to go back a reread the piece. I’m not calling you a name. Unless you think Monuments are land grabs, and I’m pretty sure you don’t. I’m also pretty sure that you don’t believe monuments reduce access, except that some two tracks could be closed. I know you understand that access is not only motorized access. For what it’s worth, BLM and the FS close two tracks all the time. Finally, I’m fairly certain that you don’t believe that sportsmen got anything new out of the monument reductions.
        For what it’s worth, I am doing something about it. This is part of that.

  5. I fixed if for you guys. MOF readers are tough and can handle a disagreement. And we are all full of shit sometimes, me included. But we don’t have to be snowflakes about it. If I wasn’t interested in having a conversation, I wouldn’t approve the comments.

  6. Greg, you seem to have cooled down a bit. We all have opinions and yours has equal validity as mine. The pursuit of birds on public lands unites us. I for one, detest the use of outgoing Presidents to declare National Monuments to appease the Lock it Up Crowd. Many of the readers of this blog need motorized access and National Monuments preclude much of that. Lets concentrate on the birds and habitat and leave this issue. Nothing changed today except a President used the broad powers to decrease the size of a national monument. It may well work out. As for quail in Arizona, Gambles is down this year. Mearns opens this Friday and may be a salvation, contact me if you come down and I’ll stand you a hunt over my Brittany and a libation.

  7. The state of Idaho has sold off 40% of state owned land to private individuals and corporations, to balance the state budgets since statehood, so far. I guess you can still hunt between the slag piles and drilling waste water ponds though if you want….

  8. Greg, while I’m not a frequent commentor, I’ve read every piece that’s came out since the book MOF was released (and went back and read as much work by those authors, including yourself, as I could). What’s makes MOF a great read is the edge. Don’t pander to snowflakes, red ones or blue ones. This is the last place I would want to see political correctness.

  9. Just read an article in HCN, Vol #49 November 27th, about Utah’s Department of Natural Resources payments to the SITLA ( School and Institutionl Trusts Lands Administration ) for use by sportsman for hunting and fishing. Every year the UDNR makes payments to the SITLA for the use of these lands. Last year the payments were $776,000.00. Next year the SITLA wants to increase those costs to between $1.8- $3.9 million, exact number to be determined. They have threatened to lease or sell these lands to private hunting clubs if the UNDR doesn’t come up with the money. The SITLA is required to maximize this income by the state constitution, so they say there hands are tied.Unlike the Feds, states are required by law to run a balanced budget each year so you can see where I’m going with this. As much as many in the west dislike federal control of lands it seams to me that the are the lesser of two evils!

  10. MOF,
    Keep it up please. We need more voices speaking out for our public lands. While civil discourse is extremely important this move must be seen in the greater context in the assault on our public lands.

  11. Real simple hunters get nothing from a reduction of Monument spaces. All that occurs is we’ve opened up spots for drilling and mining, which make for shitty hunting. Given +\-90% of federal lands are open to mineral extraction, I’m good with saying fuck no to those last corners that are off limits.

    Roads are certainly the way a lot of us access these areas, and Monuments usually don’t preclude more planned roads. I think some of you are confusing Monuments with Wilderness (which I’m also a fan of because usually that’s the best habitat).

    I’m in Cali and am aware of that unique Castle Mtn situation, and working with BHA and Western Birds to get that fixed. Best as I can tell it’s as simple as the Natl Parks don’t do hunting and they have been saddled with its mgmt.

    I have a Monument around me I hunt often that is under Trumps gun, and I hope he misfires. I think Monument status in this place will result in more resources and active cross agency mgmt, which it needs.

    I have friends who are invested in a certain read on this. Honestly a lot of it is identity politics, which is rotting the country. My two cents is to keep your ears and minds open, don’t assume the worst of each other, and whenever possible, ask Greg to use more colorful language.

  12. Dang, I missed the fireworks, this is the best post since the fanny pack and propeller hat manifesto. This is a bad precedent. As a dad, hunter, angler and public land owner, I fail to see anything positive in this decision.

Leave a Reply to Greg McReynolds Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: