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Guest Opinion

National Monuments and Representative Government

Island Park News of Island Park, Idaho

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Ken's Korner

The Island Park area of Fremont County, Idaho has been living under the threat of a national monument designation for many years. This Federal designation could have a profound effect on the way of life in the area.

On November 4, 2014, 93% of the voters in Fremont County opposed a national monument designation "in any part of Fremont County". In 2015, the Idaho Legislature passed a memorial opposing a national monument designation in Island Park. Idaho is overwhelming opposed to a national monument in Island Park.

Proponents of national monuments argue that these are public lands and that people outside the region and State should have an equal say in whether or not Island Park (over 700,000 acres) should be a national monument. This is a weak argument. People from outside the area do not live or work in Island Park and will likely never even visit the area. Most Americans have little to no interest in the issue.

The founding fathers set up our representative form of government so that Congress would represent the will of the people. However, national monument designations do not work as the founding fathers would have intended. Rather, the Antiquities Act of 1906 allows the President of the United States to unilaterally declare a monument with no required input from the people, State, or Congress. This is similar to how a dictatorship works. The will of the people is totally ignored.

If people outside of Idaho want a national monument considered in Idaho, they should work with Congress to achieve this objective. Likewise, the residents of Idaho should have their voice in Congress. Only this method can guarantee the democratic process is honored and all voices are heard. It prevents the decision from being made behind closed doors.

Opponents and proponents of national monuments should join together to change the Antiquities Act of 1906 to require that all national monument designations be approved by Congress. In this way, the voices of all Americans can be heard and considered equally. This is representative government and it honors our democratic principles.

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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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