By Liam Coates | Cronkite News
A Mohave County supervisor said Wednesday that a proposed new national monument in northern Arizona would “devastate the economic growth potential” of the region, leaving little more than what he called “poverty with a view.”
“Is forever locking down known American natural resources really the wisest course of action to take when faced with an uncertain future with international players like China and Russia?” Mohave Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter asked during his testimony to a House Natural Resources subcommittee.
But advocates said national monuments not only protect important environmental and archeological sites, but they can generate business for the regions where they are situated.
New Mexico Public Lands Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richards told the panel that in her experience, the designation of a national monument represents an “infusion of life” into the economy that “relies on the monument for that visitation and those tax dollars.”
Their comments came during an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on the Biden administration’s “efforts to limit access to public lands.”
President Joe Biden in March ordered the creation of a new 506,814-acre national monument in southern Nevada. The Avi Kwa Ame, or Spirit Mountain, area was set aside for archeological and environmental protection and to preserve lands that are considered sacred by 12 tribes in the region.
The monument was created under the Antiquities Act of 1906, a law that allows the president to protect lands with significant archaeological, marine, cultural, environmental or geological significance. The use of the act to creates such monuments is often controversial because it allows the president to act unilaterally.