Ruled by DC: Get The Feds Out Of Western Lands

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

In the final days of his administration, President Obama has decided that with the stroke of pen, he shall further consolidate direct federal control over lands within Western states. Specifically, Obama created the Bear Ears National Monument and the Gold Butte National Monument in Utah and Nevada, respectively. The Obama Administration claims that Obama's unilateral edict was necessary because Congress had not passed any legislation on the matter.

Indeed, the Obama-appointed Interior Secretary stated that "protecting the area using legislation would have been preferable" but that in the absence of legislation, it was necessary to simply declare the lands to be National Monuments. 

In other words, the democratic, constitutional process of Congressional lawmaking was inconvenient for the President. So, he decided to rule by proclamation instead, giving the Governor of Utah barely an hour's notice before the proclamation was made public. 

It's Not About Conservation — It's About Federal Control

Now, we should first note that the overwhelming majority of lands newly designated as National Monument lands were already federal lands to begin with, and have been controlled largely by the US Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.

Moreover, it is not the case that opponents to the new designation are mostly people who want to privatize the land or make it easier to mine or develop the land. In fact, many opponents of the designation oppose it because they fear Monument status will lead to greater development of the area as a tourist mecca.

In other cases, members of Indian tribes object to making sacred lands part of a federally-controlled National Monument area.

And, of course, throughout Western states, public lands continue to be a lucrative source of tourist dollars and eco-tourism. The old caricature of pro-conservationist leftists and strip-mining conservatives has long been just that: a caricature.

The reality is that nowadays many private firms and local governments depend on public lands for their livelihood and revenue, and these groups have quite a bit of influence at the state legislatures in question. Preserving natural spaces from development can mean big business and Western-state politicians know it:

It is not at all clear that markets or local governments would prefer that land be used for agricultural purposes as opposed to other purposes. For example, were Rocky Mountain National Park to become a locally-controlled park or state park, there is, realistically speaking, zero chance that it would be handed over to ranchers or miners. The park is far too valuable to the local economy as part of the recreation and tourism industries. To turn the park into range land would devastate the economies of the local communities, many of which contain wealthy and influential voters.


But, say that the park were broken up into parcels and sold to a number of private owners. (We're in the realm of pure fantasy at this point.) It would make little sense to use the land for mining or ranching even in this case. Given the infrastructure in place and the relative closeness to a major metropolitan area, the lands in and around the Park are likely far more lucrative for recreational purposes than for mining or ranching. 

There is little doubt, however, that much of the controversy over the site will be framed like this: on one side are the conscientious environmentalists and others who want to preserve these pristine lands from destruction. On the other side are oil executives who want to strip-mine the land.

The real debate here, however, isn't over strip mining vs. conservation. It's about whether or not a president thousands of miles away can — with the stroke of a pen — dictate how millions of acres in a faraway state can be used, and do so over the protestations of the state legislature.

Nor can it be demonstrated that federal agencies are better custodians of lands than are states. Indeed, the federal government has routinely been more inclined to allow overgrazing on federal lands while subsidizing ranchers at taxpayer expense. It is the states that have demonstrated more prudent stewardship of resources.

Moreover, The Denver post in a 2014 editorial noted other cases in which the federal government hapless mismanaged fish and wildlife issues:

One has only to look at the great elk management debacle in Rocky Mountain National Park. When populations grew out of control in the park, federal decision-makers chose to pay significant sums to bring in contract killers to thin the herd. A proposal by Colorado wildlife managers to use well-trained hunters and donate the meat to struggling families was cast aside.

We could further examine the sad case of game fish being electrocuted and buried on the Yampa River in northwest Colorado at the insistence of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve the pikeminnow, while the same pikeminnows are slaughtered and dumped in Washington state to preserve the wild salmon. All of this, in a never-ending nightmare of bureaucratic red tape with no firmly stated goals or objective in sight, by design.

Moreover, federal lands can be manipulated for political purposes putting local communities at risk.

Perhaps the most memorable recent example of this occurred in 2013 when the federal government shut down national parks and other federal lands as part of the usual "government shutdown" ploy. The federal government dispatched federal agents armed with assault rifles who forcibly ejected visitors from the allegedly “public lands.” Meanwhile, nearby towns that rely on tourists for the local economy were powerless to open the parks themselves. State officials, who are far more sensitive to local economic needs than members of Congress or the White House, were also powerless to do anything.

Eventually, after much political pressure was applied, the federal government kindly allowed states to pay millions to the federal government to open the parks again.

These are just some of the reasons why Utahns of various interests have opposed greater federal power over lands in their states. 

Federal Lands Are the Problem

This Obama Administration's move with Bear Ears is the latest "screw-you" to Utah in an ongoing effort by the State of Utah to exercise more control over federal lands. For years now, the Utah legislature and the state's delegation in Congress have been exploring ways to limit federal control over lands within the borders of Utah.

What is steadfastly ignored in the debate however, is the questionable legitimacy of federal control over so many immense swaths of land. 

Today, the feds control 640 million acres (not counting the far larger federally-owned areas of coastal sea floor). And in most Western states, the Federal government owns more than a third of all the land. In the case of Utah and Nevada, where the two new monuments are created, the federal government owns 65 percent and 85 percent of all land, respectively.

This means that these lands are ultimately controlled by politicians thousands of miles away who are not citizens of those states. In the case of Utah, for example, federal lands are controlled by executive-branch bureaucrats — few of whom are from Utah — or they are controlled by Congressional laws passed by a Congress composed of 529 non-Utahns and 6 Utahns.

The fact that lands in Utah should be largely controlled by Californians, Texans, and New Yorkers — many of whom have never even set foot in Utah — should strike reasonable people as both objectionable and bizarre.

At the same time, if those lands are truly sacred sites, as some groups contend, then those sites should be Tribal lands and neither federal or state lands. (See "Why Indian-Tribe Sovereignty Is Important.")

Repeal the Antiquities Act?

Other observers of the Obama Administration's many executive orders on federal lands have called for the abolition of the Antiquities Act of 1906 which empowers the president to designate federal lands as National Monuments. The Act allows presidents to act unilaterally without any consent from Congress as to how these lands might be designated. Moreover, as critics of the Act note, the Act was supposed to protect small areas of archeological or geographical interest. But, the Act has been abused in order to make many thousands of acres into areas similar to National Parks. 

Repealing the acts would be a step in the right direction, but it fails to tackle the larger problem of federal lands. After all, if federal lands were not so expansive to begin with, the Antiquities Act would be far more limited in its scope. And, even if Congress were the body designating Monument status, that would only be a tiny improvement. It's true that giving a single person in the Oval office the ability to control lands in faraway states is a problem. However, giving that same control to 535 people in a building down the street form the Oval Office isn't exactly a significant improvement.


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Skiprrrdog's picture

Screw that homosexual, limo driver son of a whore. Trump will stick *HIS PEN* so far up the chimps ass it will pop out of his cock sucking pie hole...

boattrash's picture

I want justice for the late, great LaVoy Finicum.

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) boattrash Jan 5, 2017 9:59 PM


All of the Magic Negro's (endearing term bestowed on Him by a fellow, although 100% negro, man) executive orders.

El Vaquero's picture

I have benefitted enormously from public lands, including an elk in my freezer this year.  But yeah, a lot of that federal land needs to go back to the states.  I would prefer that the throats of those managing it be closer to my grasp.  The Feds aren't authorized by the constitution to own large swaths of land anyway.  

The Saint's picture
The Saint (not verified) El Vaquero Jan 5, 2017 10:15 PM

Obama has confiscated land equal to 3 times the size of Texas during his 8 years.  He should be hung!


boattrash's picture

When speaking of Obama, I prefer to use the word hanged rather than hung (for obvious reasons).

The Saint's picture
The Saint (not verified) boattrash Jan 5, 2017 10:32 PM

LOL  Yeah, what he said.

LynRobison's picture

Federal land in the West? Come and take it.

SidSays's picture

They already have...

What, excactly, is it that you did to stop them?

ReZn8r's picture

He will be. People have had enough of his TND works.

SidSays's picture

ALL of that land needs to go back to the states.

"As for acreage (”other Property”) within state boundaries: Under the Necessary and Proper Clause, the federal government may acquire and retain land necessary for carrying out its enumerated powers. This includes parcels for military bases, post offices, buildings to house federal employees undertaking enumerated functions, and the like. It is not necessary to form federal enclaves for these purposes.

But within state boundaries the Constitution grants no authority to retain acreage for unenumerated purposes, such as land for grazing, mineral development, agriculture, forests, or parks.

The federal government has a duty to dispose of tracts not used for enumerated purposes."



divingengineer's picture

Sounds like Agenda 21 shit to me. Looks at the land in question, compare to the Agenda 21 map.

SidSays's picture

Indeed it is, and Agenda 21 isn't [likely] what you think that it is.

froze25's picture

Okk, I'm interested.  What is it really? 

bowie28's picture

Who downvoted this?  Please clarify, do you believe fedgov should own the land? or is ZH being infiltrated by vegans?


SidSays's picture





Keep an eye on your kids.

El Vaquero's picture

I have some fans.  And there have been vegans here in the past.  I recall a while back, Hedgeless Horseman posted some article about raising or butchering your own meat, pictures included and one or two posters got butthurt because they couldn't stand the sight of dead animals. 


But really, a lot of the beef you get these days just isn't that great.  IMO, it boils down to how it is raised, but beef steaks just don't taste as good as they used to.  I had one at my neighbor's 50th wedding anniversary last year that was really good though, but it was probably a $70 dollar plate, and the place that we were at only sources top quality ingredients that are local, or produces those ingredients themselves.  Go to Smiths or Albertsons and it just isn't as good as it was when I was a kid. 


Now, the elk that I shot this year is superb.  It's almost sweet.  The only issue with the steaks that even today's beef steaks has over it is that it's a bit tougher due to it being leaner.  It is still very good though.  I had chicken fried elk steak for dinner tonight.  Even being leaner, hit it with a meat tenderizer and it melts in your mouth. 


This year, I'm probably going to get an OTC Barbary Sheep tag, a land owner's tag for antelope, and put in for deer, elk and off range oryx. 

bowie28's picture

Making me jealous.  I'm in northern NJ just outside NYC and I prefer to cook my own meals so the best option for a good steak here is the local Fairway where I can get a decent porterhouse or bone-in ribeye for $29/lb.  I will say after eating some solid Korean bbq I figured out I can buy English-cut short ribs for about $7/lb and when you grill them or slice them up and fry in some butter and pair with a good Malbec you can't tell the difference. 

Never had Elk but gonna make it a point to do try it.

What ever happened to HH?  Is he still around?


BabaLooey's picture

Damn El V

Hunt away!

I bet supper at your place is superb!

slyder wood's picture

You want state influence in public land, go to UT, see how well you do hunting or finding backcountry not covered with cowshit and flies. BTW, the state issues hunting licenses for fed land hunts in NM, part of the revenue sharing in addition to the range and forest science given by the Feds. It's the gunpacking state pricks that insist on seeing your license even 15 miles in the Gila backcountry. if the state ran the whole show your fees will explode. You'll pay far more to go to a state park/lake than a NF, BLM.

38BWD22's picture



It wasn't clear to me (in my first pass reading through the article) exactly WHAT (legally) Obama did, but I would think that Trump would be able to come in and repeal this too.

It looks like another "executive order" (my general term here for an abusive El Presidente who has no respect for the Constitution) that can be undone without too much fuss.

boattrash's picture

I hope you're right. He used the Antiquities Act to do it. Here's the wikipedia link to it.

BabaLooey's picture


ANYONE that watches what happened to LaVoy - and does not see that the government has turned into the fucking Nazi state - 



slyder wood's picture

Hilarious, Finicum was shot by state troopers on state land. The Feds pretty much accommodated these nutjobs while at Malheur/fed land, never made a move when they could have, easily. And you guys think state control is better......?

boattrash's picture

slyder, I can't see anything hilarious about it. Yeah, the OSP shot him (at the behest of the Feds). Who fired first though? Video clearly shows the truck being shot before LaVoy got out of it, Feds DID shoot, but lied about it and are under investigation now (but that will go nowhere). The trigger-happy motherfuckers might not have shot him if they hadn't heard the first shots, but that's unlikely, as they clearly had set up a kill point ambush. Many, many motherfuckers at that scene deserve a dirt-nap, and Lavoy was not one of them.

navy62802's picture

The first step should be ejecting California from the Union. If they want to go, they can. They can also be severed from all federal funding. Just make the state of California a northern extension of the Mexican state Baja California. Easy.

Or better yet, give California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico to Mexico. California is home to millions of traitors and the other three states don't contribute anything to the nation anyway, as these states are mostly desert. It's a win-win. We can find other places to test nuclear weapons.

bowie28's picture

LOL.  I have a suggestion for the first test site:

East Capitol St NE & First St SE, Washington, DC 20004

Just make sure it's during the next senate hearing about Russian hacking.

Although they say cockroaches would survive nuclear winter so McCain and Ms. Lindsay would probably scurry out and continue to haunt us.

El Vaquero's picture

1) I'm not going become a Mexican and I'm not moving.

2) We have a lot of the nation's nuclear facilities where they are actually maintained and more nukes here than any other state in the union.  

navy62802's picture

My point exactly. I'm guessing you live in either Arizona, New Mexico or Nevada. Your state (whichever you live in) doesn't contribute much to the US beyond providing a testing ground for nuclear weapons. We can do that in a lot of different places other than your state. What else does your state provide that is a benefit to the rest of us? Farmland? Factories? Sand? Other than soaking up national resources, what is your state good for?

El Vaquero's picture

We don't test them here.  We build them.  This is where the facilities for building and maintaining them are.  We also have one of the largest copper mines in the country.  After that, it is farming and ranching.  There is a lot of cattle country here.

navy62802's picture

All of those things can all be done in other locations. I don't mean that as a slight against the citizens of those states. I mean it as a serious question for the US government. What is the point of having millions of square miles of desert with only a few scattered population centers and minimal farmland? With the federal funds we provide to these states, we could expand existing farms in fertile states.

El Vaquero's picture

A lot of the federal funds that NM gets are specifically for nuclear maintainance and other various MIC stuff.  The largest all wooden (even the fasteners) structure in the world is here, and that was either a DOE or DOD project for EMP testing.  They used to set B1s on it and hit them with a simulated EMP pulse.  There are two national labs, a branch of the Air Force Research Lab and what is probably the largest storage facility for nukes in the US, if not the world.  Move all of that stuff, and you'll still be paying those costs to the same eggheads and .mil people, just elsewhere.  And you'll have to move those facilities, which are highly specialized and expensive.  That doesn't get into places like the White Sands Missile Range, which is around 40mi x 100mi where they test some shit that you do need big and open spaces for. 


And there actually is quite a bit of farmland here, up and down the river vallies.  A lot of the fertile land isn't even used for farming.  Once you get away from the river vallies, huge chuncks of the state are used for raising cattle, and not all of the state is desert.  A number of places average 20"-30" of precipitation per year.  With over 80 named mountain ranges, there is an enormous amount to do if you like outdoors stuff.  We have some of the best fly fishing in the nation, and if the feds would ever fuck off from "restoring" my honey hole, some of the best duck hunting in the nation.  Hell, there is even ice fishing here in the winter.  It's also the only state in the nation that you can hunt Gemsbock Oryx that isn't on a private game ranch, and those SOBs are really good to eat. 


We could also probably support our population without industrial agriculture. 

slyder wood's picture

Never talk about fight club.
Never talk about NM.

DivisionBell's picture

The MeCHA folks must love you.  I say that Aztlan will not be realized.

If you give away California, you're giving away the mother lode.  We will at least do some hydraulicking before ceding it.


problemfixr's picture

I have been covering this travesty for some time now.



SidSays's picture

Very nice...

Consider adding this one...

At around 8:20 is particularly relevant for this conversation and this crowd.

boattrash's picture

I concur, that one should be there as well.

boattrash's picture

Problemfixr, Sincere thanks for that.


Midas's picture

Amazing that Texas is staying off the radar.  1.8%!  And if anyone could spare some land...   Don't get me wrong though, I want Texas to stay Texas and the feds to get lost.

rejected's picture

Texas was a sovereign nation before they stupidly became part of this mess,  which is why they kept most of their territory.

slyder wood's picture

Guess where the Texans come to hunt and recreate....that's right NM, CO, etc. The challenge is to keep them from staying......

Baby Eating Dingo22's picture

This land is your land

This land is my land..

scintillator9's picture

From my youth, I remember a parody of that song that went like this:

"This land is my land

This land ain't your land

I got a shotgun and ain't got one.

If you don't get off

I'll blow your head off

This land was made just for me, me, me!!!!"


It appears that some people have taken this to heart.

Son of Captain Nemo's picture


"In the final days of his administration, President Obama has decided that with the stroke of pen, he shall further consolidate direct federal control over lands within Western states."...

Here's an idea...

Let's celebrate the Obama Administration's collective treason on "this" and everything else it's done CONUS/OCONUS for the last 8 years by making the entire geographic region of Washington D.C. a colorful "fireworks display" that will be seen as far away as the Shenandoah for Trump's inauguration to be held at 20,000 feet with him on "Air Force One"?...

Upon completion of the oath of office...

Obama and his entire staff will provide a "Golden Knights" show from the belly of Air Force One over what is left of the city without parachutes!!!

Nobodys Home's picture

(clap, clap, clap) Yayyyy!! Make sure they have those smoke canisters blowing so we can see them easier!!!!

boattrash's picture

These motherfuckers! In AR, we had the joys of Federal take-overs of land as Wilderness Area. Recreation? WTF They even banned horseback riding (due to the erosion). The CAT log-skidders never cause erosion though.

But the worst part, they've about "managed" it to death. They stocked it with elk, which seems like they brought Feds in at a fucking 3:1 ratio to "manage" the herd, we now have Chronic Wasting Disease, and you can get in on the overpriced lottery to hunt these diseased elk.

If you're "lucky" you may get to hunt and kill one. As with everything I've seen, if the Federal Govt. controls it, they fuck it up...

ReZn8r's picture

We need to remove the feds from every part of our lives. We should force them to live by the US Constitution an within its constraints for the government.

slyder wood's picture

Uh....your over-priced elk hunt is run by the state. The state fish & game manage hunting, even on fed land. We have wasting hunts. Elk can be prolific and the herd health decimated because trophy hunting is the current fad. It depletes the gene pool, young immature bulls come into rut with no competition from big bulls. I loathe trophy hunting but that seems to be the majority of "hunters" these days, small penises and fancy guns. Do yourself a favor and put cow elk or a doe in the freezer, better meat than a big stinky old bull or buck.

boattrash's picture

I know the state runs the AG&F. I also know if you walk through the woods with a gun, when you get back to your driveway, you're likely to find a State and Fed waiting for you (to present you with $850 worth of tickets).

I'm a meat hunter as well, not a  trophy hunter. Get out the book, the tape measure, and walk up to that deer before you shoot so that you can verify that it's a legal deer. FFS

Another bitch I have about it is this: With the ass-raping I take on taxes, why the fuck am I paying a shit-ton-load of Fed salaries, trucks, guns & gear to do a job the state already does? I can't fucking afford them both!