Dr. Boozman's Check-up

In Arkansas, we’ve seen efforts to expand the role of Washington’s control of our land.  Unfortunately this is not unique to our state. Today, President Obama is expected to declare a new half-million acre “national monument” along the U.S. border in the southwest.  

Media reports indicate this designation sets aside nearly 800 square miles of land. Many people are rightfully expressing alarm that this is far more than needed to protect the special objects and sites in this area. Others are alarmed that the size and scope of this monument will make it very difficult for the Border Patrol to do its job.

While the “Antiquities Act” allows the President to set aside federal land to protect historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest.  It also says that the President should set aside ‘‘the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’’ I am concerned that this is not being followed.

Unfortunately, current law does not provide a way for citizens to make their voices heard before the President acts. We must bring transparency to the process of creating national monuments so that all concerns and points-of-view will be carefully considered before the President takes unilateral action. In the coming weeks, I will work with my colleagues to address this issue and protect the rights of citizens.