Congressman Paul Cook

Representing the 8th District of California
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Rep. Paul Cook Issues Statement on New Monument Designations

Feb 12, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) issued the following statement after President Obama created three new monuments in the California desert:

"I’m not opposed to national monuments. I’m opposed to the President creating national monuments through unilateral executive action, ignoring the legislative process. That’s exactly what the President’s done here in designating over 1.8 million acres of public land in San Bernardino and Riverside counties as national monuments. I’ve always opposed any effort to create monuments through the President’s Antiquities Act, particularly because the legislative process is still moving forward. Unlike the legislative process, the Antiquities Act process provides minimal opportunity for public input, provides no funding mechanisms, and leaves us with monuments that lack broad local support.

"As we saw from the President’s unilateral designation of the San Gabriel National Monument in late 2014, many concerns about fire protection, environmental effects, and necessary funding to ensure proper stewardship of the land were not taken into consideration. In creating the San Gabriel National Monument through executive order rather than properly, through Congress, this area has experienced greater environmental strain due to greater public usage. With the US Forest Service unable to provide any additional resources, the San Gabriel National Monument now suffers from higher amounts of graffiti, trash, and misuse. These so-called “pro-environment” monument designations – lacking local support and Congressional buy-in – actually result in environmental degradation. It’s a simple fact in the San Gabriel National Monument, well documented by the Los Angeles Times. We risk the same outcome with these new designations.

"Make no mistake about it, I’m committed to preserving our majestic landscapes for future generations to enjoy. That’s why I’ll continue working hard on my own legislative solution, HR 3668, the California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation, and Conservation Act. My bill balances recreation, environmental concerns, and economic use in a sensible way. It addresses the needs of off-highway vehicle users and conservationists, while protecting economically vital mineral sites and cultural heritage sites. It’s also the product of local community and stakeholder outreach, which is why it has the support of the vast majority of local cities. The guiding principle for public land decisions must be local input.

"There are two legislative proposals currently moving through the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. My bill has received a hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee. The other bill has received a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The President should have given the legislative process an opportunity to work. Instead, we’re given a cheap solution that won’t accomplish its goals as intended.

"I’ve never found people in Washington to know better than residents of San Bernardino County when it comes to local land issues. This time, special interest groups hijacked these monument designations and ignored the wishes of those who live closest and use the land most often. Despite this setback, I’m going to continue working to provide real protection for our public lands. Today’s action cannot be the final word on our desert."