Bill allowing Colorado wildlife commission to raise hunting, fishing fees heads to House floor

If state lawmakers allow the Colorado Wildlife Commission to raise resident hunting and fishing fees, a new funding model could spread the cost of conservation, access and habitat protection beyond sportsmen into the realm of hikers, boaters, bikers and other outdoor users.

Source: Bill allowing Colorado wildlife commission to raise hunting, fishing fees heads to House floor

Put Your Money Where Your Fun Is | Outside Online

by Frederick Reimers, Outside Magazine

It’s no secret that our public lands are in trouble. The Forest Service has had its budget cut, for everything but firefighting, by 36 percent since 1995, and the Park Service is teetering atop a $12 billion maintenance backlog. Oregon is selling a popular state forest full of old growth to make ends meet, and a Colorado nonprofit estimates that it’ll take $24 million to repair trails on the state’s fourteeners alone. In light of diminishing resources, it’s time for hikers, bikers, and paddlers to become more like gun owners and take care of our outdoor spaces.

Every time someone buys a rifle or ammunition in the U.S., they pay an 11 percent tax (10 percent for handguns) that helps fund the states’ conservation ­efforts. In 2014 alone, those taxes pumped $760 million into wildlife management, ­property purchases, and other ­essential endeavors. Without that revenue, and additional funding from a similar tax on fishing gear, our nation’s wildlife would be in trouble, says Whit Fosburgh, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a Washington, D.C., hunting and angling group. The taxes, along with ­licenses, make up 80 percent of the funding for state fish and wildlife services. Fosburgh believes that other groups should be contributing as well. “It’s time for the general recreation community to ramp up their commitment to public lands,” says Fosburgh.

He’s right. Just like hunters and fishermen are required to, we should have to ante up for the sake of our forests, deserts, and mountains whenever we buy new gear. The easiest way to do that is probably to create excise taxes on items like skis, tents, and snowboards. Some have proposed that mountain bikers be required to buy a sticker that funds trail maintenance, just as dirt bikers and ATV enthusiasts are in many states. However we do it, our public lands need financial support from the people buying everything from RVs and teardrop trailers to boots and trekking poles. It’s time to pay to play.

No one wants more taxes. And the Outdoor Industry Association believes the companies it represents are overpaying already. The trade group was formed in 1989, in part to fight the “backpack tax” championed by then secretary of the interior Bruce Babbitt and others. The OIA argues that gear companies are already paying more than their share in import ­taxes, since their overseas-made goods are subject to a rate between 14 and 35 percent, while other industries—cars and electronics, for example—pay anywhere from 8 percent to nothing at all. (The outdoor industry got a late start lobbying against 1930s-era tariffs.) Those taxes add as much as $45 to the price of a light waterproof hiker.

“At a time when we are trying to encourage people to get outside, we don’t want addi­tional cost barriers,” says OIA executive dir­ec­tor Amy Roberts. Furthermore, how do you differentiate between a pack used for hiking and one for carrying textbooks? Or a rain shell worn on the Appalachian Trail versus one used to stay dry in Seattle?

That sort of distinction isn’t made for gun sales. The firearms tax is nearly the same whether you’re buying a .44 Magnum or a deer rifle; Dirty Harry supports wildlife studies to almost the same degree as Ted Nugent.

If the OIA doesn’t want additional taxes, it should throw its political weight behind an effort to earmark its existing import tariffs for public lands rather than the federal General Fund, which can be used to pay for everything from military drones to border walls.

Of course, the biggest hurdle is the Repub­lican-controlled Congress, which is ­looking to slash taxes across the board. This means that the best solution for states is to follow the lead of Minnesota, where, in 2008, ­voters approved a 0.375 percent general sales tax for conservation, recreation, and the arts. It has already contributed $1.8 billion to help fund projects like the 85-mile interconnected mountain-bike trail ­system in Duluth. “The Duluth system is a tourist draw,” says ­Luther Propst, an Interna­tional Mountain Bicycl­ing Association board member. “States that fund their natural resources are gaining a competitive advantage.”

Source: Put Your Money Where Your Fun Is | Outside Online

If America’s public lands were a business, the GOP would be bungling the balance sheet

America’s public lands perform best when protected for recreation. In fact, the business of outdoor recreation, which relies heavily on public lands, supports more jobs (6.1 million) than oil, natural gas and mining combined. Americans spend more on outdoor recreation annually ($646 billion) than on electronics, pharmaceuticals or automobiles.

by Yvon Chouinard, for The Los Angeles Times

Every American citizen owns stock in 640 million acres of federal public lands. We hire public servants to manage our precious assets for maximum return. For decades, we’ve taken these sizable holdings for granted, assuming they’re in good hands.

But we’ve let the fossil fuel industry into the boardroom. We’re allowing gas and mining companies to boss around our elected officials.

 

Rather than harness the power of public lands for maximum benefit, some politicians on the right — including Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — are trying to repeal laws that safeguard ecologically vulnerable landscapes. They’re working to roll back protections on some of our most special wild places, including Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in my home state of Maine. And they are pushing to transfer ownership of federal lands to states.

What right do the states have to assert control over land owned by every American citizen?

They cloak all this in an argument for states’ rights, but that’s baloney. What right do the states have to assert control over land owned by every American citizen? Selling public lands has been item No. 1 on Big Oil’s agenda for a long time. It’s a theft of valuable property owned by all of us.

Public lands already get used for drilling and mining and grazing and other kinds of development, which makes good sense. But some places are simply too exceptional to put at risk. That’s why both political parties have long placed trust in our federal agencies to make appropriate decisions about the best use for our lands. It’s not a perfect system, but it works pretty well.

These agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, take into account the input of citizens, along with scientific and economic data, to provide a wide range of benefits from public lands.

It’s outrageous that politicians would take away this oversight. But just as bad, these supposedly business-minded politicians can’t read a simple balance sheet.

America’s public lands perform best when protected for recreation. In fact, the business of outdoor recreation, which relies heavily on public lands, supports more jobs (6.1 million) than oil, natural gas and mining combined. Americans spend more on outdoor recreation annually ($646 billion) than on electronics, pharmaceuticals or automobiles.

Some argue that oil and gas jobs would multiply if more lands were opened for development, but in reality, those jobs are being replaced by robots. Because of automation, between a third and a half of the workers who lost their jobs after prices fell a few years ago still can’t find work, even as prices and production surge again. Those jobs have largely moved on to new industries, such as renewable energy. (Would you believe it?)

You can’t outsource the jobs of workers operating a roadside motel near a national park or automate the job of a local river guide in one of rural America’s many wilderness gateway towns. Public lands power a sustainable, homegrown economy. From 2008 to 2011, during the height of the recession, the outdoor industry grew 5% every year.

Areas in the West with protected lands consistently enjoy better rates of employment and income growth compared to those with no protected lands, a recent study shows. In the 22 years since the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah was declared a national monument, jobs grew by 38% in two neighboring counties.

Some lawmakers are acting far outside the interests of the public land owners they were elected to serve. In the corporate world, we’d show them the door immediately. Of course, that’s not how our government actually works.

Some 91% of Westerners agree that national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other federal lands are essential to their state’s economic prosperity, but Americans who support protecting public lands are badly splintered. Hunters and anglers love and value our public lands, but the “hook and bullet” crowd scares off environmentalists and some businesspeople. Environmentalists love and value our public lands, but hardcore activists scare off most businesspeople and some hunters and anglers. Businesspeople love and value our public lands, but lots of folks get skeptical when corporations are involved in advocacy.

We need to work together to protect our public lands. We all value access to wild places where our air, water and wildlife are safe from pollution and development. We all benefit from the enormous economy generated by the conservation of our lands. And we all hate getting ripped off by hucksters posing as smart businesspeople, threatening not just our economy but our American heritage as well.

Let’s drop the discord, start acting like owners and demand that our elected representatives start delivering the value we deserve.

Yvon Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia.

Source: If America’s public lands were a business, the GOP would be bungling the balance sheet – LA Times

Congress Rolls Back the Public Process on 245 Million Acres of Public Land — Outdoor Alliance

Minutes ago, the Senate passed H.J. Res 44, a measure also passed by the House a few weeks ago, to roll back the public process and progressive management on the 245 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Congress used the Congressional Review Act (CRA), an arcane rule that allows Congress to roll back agency regulations within 60 days, to repeal BLM Planning 2.0. Planning 2.0 was a widely-lauded effort to modernize the 30-year-old rules currently governing land planning on BLM land and give it a better public process.

Planning 2.0 was a strong rulemaking, based on extensive public input. It made important changes to modernize BLM planning, including how the BLM handles data from uses like outdoor recreation. BLM Planning 2.0 was built in response to years of gathering input from local communities and diverse shareholders about how best to manage these public lands. The Planning 2.0 Rule would have ensured a better, fairer public process for the management of public lands.

Repealing Planning 2.0 guts the public process on public lands and also bars “substantially similar” rulemaking in the future. This means that the BLM will be stuck with an outdated process designed in the early 1980’s and will be unable to update it unless Congress acts to give the BLM the authority to make absolutely necessary modernizations to its rule.

“There were many great things about the 1980’s, but BLM land management rules were not one of them. Like the cassette tape, it was time for those rules to be updated and Planning 2.0 incorporated input from local communities to create more flexible, modern land management. Planning 2.0 improved how outdoor recreation would be managed on public lands, and the CRA sends us back to the 80’s” said Adam Cramer, Executive Director of Outdoor Alliance.
“Having a voice on our public lands is incredibly important to the recreation community and we’re disappointed to see this step backwards on the public process,” said Katherine Hollis at the Mountaineers.

“It’s disappointing to see a constructive planning process tossed out. Like never before, outdoor recreationists must buckle down and engage in the public process, developing the relationships that will highlight the value of outdoor recreation for quality of life and the economy,” said Aaron Clark at the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

The fact that Congress repealed BLM Planning 2.0 is a huge downer. But there is something you can do. Take Aaron’s advice and tell your Congressperson how you feel about rolling back the public process and the role of outdoor recreation on our public lands.

Source: Congress Rolls Back the Public Process on 245 Million Acres of Public Land — Outdoor Alliance

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance announces withdrawal from Utah

The June 2018 Grassroots Connect show will co-locate with Outdoor Retailer Summer Market at their new venue, as determined by their current search process.

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance will not hold an event in Sandy, Utah in 2018 as planned, the organization has announced.

Grassroots’ decision to withdraw is twofold, according to President Rich Hill.
“Our membership is unanimous in opposing Utah’s public lands policy,” he said. He also cited his organization’s desire to stay together as an industry. “The best idea that we’ve come away from the last year with is co-location with Outdoor Retailer. It’s critical that we work together as an industry.”

Outdoor Retailer announced last month that it will not be returning to Utah, its home for two decades, because it does not see eye to eye with Gov. Gary Herbert on the protection of public lands, including the designation of Bears Ears National Monument.

“It’s unlikely that there’s a bigger issue out there for Grassroots members and partners than preservation and access to public lands,” Hill said. “The outdoor community spends millions of dollars collectively each year to create and protect open spaces for outdoor recreation, and the aggressive stance of Utah’s elected officials on this front has our membership pretty fired up.”

The June 2018 Grassroots Connect show will co-locate with Outdoor Retailer Summer Market at their new venue, as determined by their current search process.

The variety of benefits from “co-locating” the two independent shows include providing Grassroots retailers, vendor partners, and reps with substantial financial and marketing efficiencies, as well as delivering a broad industry perspective that benefits each individual business.

“Co-location makes so much sense for our retail members,” says Hill. “It essentially saves retailers six to eight days per year on travel.”
That’s six to eight more days they can be in their stores selling.

“Trade shows are obviously a big part of outdoor industry life,” Hill said. “And while they’re important to everyone’s bottom line, the big opportunity is to use our gatherings to come together as an industry to recognize—and address—the headwinds that we are all facing.”

Source: SNEWS | Grassroots Outdoor Alliance announces withdrawal from Utah

Why Conservation Matters: Rafting the Green River’s Gates of Lodore

by Michael Lanza, The Big Outside

The momentarily sedate current of the Green River pulls our flotilla of five rafts and two kayaks toward what looks like a geological impossibility: a gigantic cleft at least a thousand feet deep, where the river appears to have chopped a path right through the Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah. Sheer, cracked cliffs of burgundy-brown rock frame the gap. Box elder, juniper, and a few cottonwoods grow on broad sand bars backed by tiered walls that seem to reach infinitely upward and backward, eclipsing broad swaths of blue sky.

We notice movement on river left and glance over to see two bighorn sheep dash up a rocky canyon wall so steep that none of us can imagine even walking up it.

These are the Gates of Lodore, portal to a canyon as famous today for its scenery and wilderness character as it was infamous for the catastrophes suffered by its first explorers, who set out in wooden boats a century and a half ago to map the West’s greatest river system.Much has certainly changed since John Wesley Powell’s historic journey through the Canyon of Lodore. But thanks to conservation struggles in the past—decades before the teenagers among us were born—much about the canyons incised deeply into the ancient layers of rock here in Dinosaur National Monument remains the same as Powell saw.

Much has certainly changed since John Wesley Powell’s historic journey through the Canyon of Lodore. But thanks to conservation struggles in the past—decades before the teenagers among us were born—much about the canyons incised deeply into the ancient layers of rock here in Dinosaur National Monument remains the same as Powell saw.

And yet, we live in a time when the lessons of history seem in danger of drowning in muddy political waters where facts are described as “alternative” and truths are reshaped to suit the agendas of the powerful. The story of how these canyons narrowly avoided concrete walls that would have transformed rivers into reservoirs feels like an intensely relevant one to impart to another generation.

Our party of 30—friends and family ranging in age from 12 to their sixties, including seven kids and five guides with Holiday River Expeditions—has launched on one of the West’s classic, multi-day, wilderness river trips: floating the Green River through Dinosaur National Monument, on the Utah-Colorado border. Covering 44 river miles in four days, we’ll run a handful of class III and IV rapids, three of which Powell gave ominous names: Disaster Falls, Triplet Falls, and Hells Half Mile. We’ll also dayhike to see prehistoric pictographs, stand beneath icy waterfalls, and spot more bighorn sheep than any of us has ever seen on one trip.

Source: Why Conservation Matters: Rafting the Green River’s Gates of Lodore | The Big Outside

At Republican Town Halls Across The Country, Anger Rises 

Constituents have been confronting legislators over everything from the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare to the Trump White House.

Republican members of Congress aren’t exactly getting a warm welcome in their home districts during this week’s recess.

Angry constituents have confronted legislators at town halls across the country, upset over everything from the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Trump White House’s travel ban, alleged Russian interference in the U.S. elections and more. New York Rep. Tom Reed, for example, faced these questions in a series of town halls he held over the weekend.

The backlash is happening in some deep red places, stretching from Reed’s western New York district to Kentucky and Iowa. Some national Republicans — and President Trump in a Tuesday night tweet — have tried to dismiss the progressive activists helping to organize the protests.

However, their statements almost mirror the arguments Democrats made in 2009 to explain away backlash at town halls that summer over the health care law. How did that work out? Democrats got a “shellacking” at the ballot box in November 2010.

Here are snapshots of rowdy events that have happened in the past couple of days:

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell: The Senate majority leader didn’t have a formal town hall scheduled, but he got plenty of blowback at a $10 per plate luncheon on Tuesday, which was supposed to be a GOP-friendly event, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader:

“At one point, a frustrated audience member implored him: ‘Answer the question, Mitch!’ after he offered a curt answer to a woman asking about lost coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky.

“As he began leaving the event, escorted by state and local law enforcement, a few in the crowd booed. Someone shouted ‘Do your job.’ ”

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley: The Des Moines Register described the senator’s first town hall on Tuesday morning as “a raucous, sweaty tumult of cheering and jeering, interruptions and shouted questions.”

Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor: The freshman congressman — who sits in a swing district sure to be a top target in 2018 — had a crowd of about 800 at his first town hall on Monday with another 200 waiting outside unable to get in, according to the Virginian Pilot. Local station WAVY-TV 10 had this report.

Source: At Republican Town Halls Across The Country, Anger Rises : NPR

County vote on controversial Red Rock development sets stage for long legal battle

 

“We all came down here, we had 42,000 signatures, hundreds of people here. We had hundreds of people here. We had over 130 comments, which is more than they’ve ever had and it was for nothing.”

by Heather Mills, Nathan O’Neal and Faith Jessie, 3News Las Vegas

The highly contested concept plan to build as many as 5,000 homes near Red Rock is one step closer to reality, by there are still legal battles ahead.

Clark County Commissioners voted 5-2 to allow the withdrawal of a 2016 concept plan for development near Red Rock, essentially paving the way for a 2011 concept plan. The contested proposal still faces many hurdles, but the representatives for Gypsum Resources said Wednesday’s vote was a win.

“We think we got very clear direction today that we’re to move forward with the 2011 approved concept plan, with conditions.” Rob Krater is a consultant who works with the developer. They believe the development will mean billions of dollars infused into the local economy. He said one way or another, they will develop, that not developing was never the issue. “Today we heard a lot of comments and comments are very emotional and they’re very good comments and they’re things that we can start to address and things we can actually start to weave into the specific plan.”

County Commissioner Larry Brown; who voted in favor of withdrawing the 2016 plan without prejudice said, “To those that say that we should just say no and save Red Rock, I think it became clear today, we can’t. This is a private property issue.”

But, to the hundreds that showed up to voice their opinion against the development, like Shiela Billingsly, Wednesday’s vote felt like the county wasn’t listening she said. “We all came down here, we had 42,000 signatures, hundreds of people here. We had hundreds of people here. We had over 130 comments, which is more than they’ve ever had and it was for nothing.”

The concept plan still has a long ways to go and court battles to be had. Things like public access could certainly become another hot issue as plans progress.

“We have to pay for all the water and sewer and infrastructure. We’re going to have to build police stations and schools and fire stations up there and that’s on us,” said Mary Riddel an Economics Professor at UNLV. She spoke in front of the packed meeting.

Others, like Sheila Billingsly are upset with the vote. “It is very upsetting.” But, even after seven and a half hours of heated public comment, demonstrators with Save Red Rock say the battle isn’t over. “We all came down here, we had 42,000 signatures, hundreds of people here. We had hundreds of people here. We had over 130 comments, which is more than they’ve ever had and it was for nothing,” said Billingsly.

The fight has even gone national with the singer of Imagine Dragons tweeting ” If they think they have won, they are very wrong. The battle now begins and the voices of Las Vegas will be heard. @SaveRedRock”

The attorney with Save Red Rock said they will go back to court to fight the legitimacy of the 2011 concept plan which they believe was expired.

Source: County vote on controversial Red Rock development sets stage for long legal battle | KSNV

Let’s tax our stuff — and spend it on clout 

by Molly Absolon, Jackson Hole News & Guide

I’ve never seen as many people on the Glory boot track as I saw this past weekend. An unbroken line of hikers strung down the mountainside, and the parking lot overflowed with vehicles. The numbers drove home just how many outdoor recreationists there are these days.

I tried to come up with a guess-timate on just how much money each of us carried or wore up the track. Let’s say our skis cost $700 and our boots were $500. Dynafit or a comparable pair of light alpine touring bindings run anywhere from $300 to more than $500, so let’s just say $350 is a reasonable average. Backpacks cost around $100. Ski pants $150. Jackets $200. I could keep going but don’t really need to. My point is clear. Each of us has at least a couple thousand dollars invested in our backcountry ski getup, and there were hundreds of us out there on this weekend. So just for fun let’s say 500 people climbed Glory. If each of us had spent $2,000 on our gear that’s $1 million total, and I’d guess that’s an underestimate.

The point is that outdoor recreation is big business. To illustrate that look at the decision by the Outdoor Retailers Show to pull out of Salt Lake City after 20 years in Utah. The decision will cost Salt Lake City $45 million in lost revenue. That’s a big blow, and that’s the point. The Outdoor Industry Association wants to throw its weight around. After years of being pushed aside by the louder voices and deeper pockets of oil and gas, coal and other extractive industries, the outdoor industry now thinks it has grown enough to deserve a seat at the table when it comes to deciding the future of our public lands.

The fact of the matter is that it’s about time the outdoor recreation industry stepped up and took a stand on issues affecting the lands on which we pursue our sports. I used to be the communications manager for a conservation group in Wyoming. We were focused on protecting the Wyoming Range from oil and gas leasing at that time. The voice that had the most power for conservationists at the bargaining table was that of the “hook and bullet” crowd. Hunters and anglers were respected and listened to. Why? Because hunters and anglers are willing to pay to play. In fact they have contributed more than $300 million to federal coffers through self-imposed excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and fishing equipment. Those dollars have been used to help fund wildlife conservation efforts. They’ve also given the hook and bullet crowd credibility and clout.

Outdoor recreationists don’t have that same clout though our numbers are growing exponentially. I don’t have any statistics to back up that observation, but all of us who’ve lived in the area more than five years have anecdotal evidence of the growth. Yet despite this increase you don’t see us at the bargaining table when it comes to federal land management decisions. But we should be, especially in the Jackson area, where outdoor recreation is ingrained in our psyche.

Forrest McCarthy has been thinking about this issue a lot. We got into this topic on a skin track one day and subsequently he has shared background information on one potential solution: a 1 percent excise tax on outdoor equipment and clothing that would be set aside for conservation.

The so-called backpack tax is not a new idea, nor is it Forrest’s, but he’s a fan. It was first proposed in the 1990s, but the Outdoor Industry Association shot it down. McCarthy says that the industry’s complaints about the tax were legitimate, but he disagrees with their decision to kill rather than reform it. He believes we need to be paying our way like hunters and anglers and motorized recreationists (who pay an excise tax on gas that is used to support motorized trails). Because these groups pay into the system they get something in return. Right now outdoor recreationists aren’t really paying into the system, and it shows. We don’t get a lot of respect from our government so our voices often go unheard and our needs unmet.

You can argue that all of us already pay taxes on our gear, and we do. There are sales taxes and import tariffs on outdoor gear, but those taxes go into the general fund and don’t have any direct effect on conservation or public lands. We also pay fees for a variety of things like entering a national park or getting a permit to float a river, but hunters, anglers and motorized recreationists pay user fees, too, so you can’t really count them. It’s not like we’re doing anything extra for the lands we love.

People also criticize the backpack tax because it makes gear more expensive and, therefore, less affordable for any but the rich elite. I understand that argument to an extent, but don’t think it holds water in the long run. If you are paying an extra 1 percent on your $700 skis, that’s $7. That’s not going to make or break your decision to make that purchase. Furthermore, used gear would not be taxed and, therefore, would continue to be an option for people who can’t afford top-of-the-line equipment.

Finally, in the ’90s, when the backpack tax was first shot down, the outdoor industry argued that it included items that weren’t used for outdoor recreation. Again, this argument seems like one that can be surmounted with a little thought. After all, most of us know the difference between a backpack intended for books and one you use for skiing.

I think we need to put our money where our mouth is. I applaud the decision to pull the OR show out of Salt Lake, although it’s unfortunate that businesses in the area will suffer. But that’s the way sanctions work. They are meant to hurt. They are meant to make a change. Taxes also hurt. No one likes to give more money to the federal government, but if we want to protect the lands that give us joy and freedom, we should be willing to pay.

Source: Let’s tax our stuff — and spend it on clout – Jackson Hole News&Guide: Outdoors Snow Survey

LePage to Trump: Ax North Woods national monument 

Gov. Paul LePage has asked President Donald Trump to reverse an executive order by the Obama administration that created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and return the land to private ownership.

by Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Maine

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has asked President Donald Trump to reverse an executive order by the Obama administration that created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and return the land to private ownership.

In a two-page letter dated Feb. 14, the Republican governor asks Trump to enact the reversal “before economic damage occurs and traditional recreational pursuits are diminished.” The Bangor Daily News obtained a copy of the letter Wednesday, and it was verified by LePage spokesman Peter Steele. Steele declined to comment further.

Calling President Barack Obama’s executive order creating the monument “a grave injustice … to the people and our forest economy,” LePage attached a letter from April 22, 2016, detailing his objections to the order.

It is unclear whether a president can undo an executive order creating a monument. Several attorneys general dating back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s have issued opinions that presidents lack the authority to abolish national monuments, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

If a return to private ownership is not feasible, LePage said, “I believe the land should be managed by the state of Maine to ensure it can benefit all Maine people and accommodate the region’s economic and regional needs.”

Lucas St. Clair, a leading proponent of the monument, said that the $40 million in endowments and fundraisers his family promised in support of the monument would vanish if the park’s management was transferred from the National Park Service. His mother, Burt’s Bee entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby, has worked to establish a national park in the North Woods since at least 2011.

“They would be losing a $40 million endowment,” St. Clair said. “I would do what I could to keep [reversal of the monument designation] from happening. I would work with the thousands of people who support this. But if it did [get rescinded], the investment would go away and the contractual law [that established the monument] with the federal government would be in jeopardy.

“It is a terrible, terrible idea,” St. Clair added.

Monument opponents were noncommittal or refused to comment on LePage’s letter.

 

Source: LePage to Trump: Ax North Woods national monument — Outdoors — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine