Rancher Suing Biden Over Arizona Monument Calls for its Reversal

A rancher, Chris Heaton, who is suing President Joe Biden over the establishment of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument in Arizona, blocking nearly 1 million acres for mining and other activities, expressed his desire to see the monument overturned. President Biden had designated the monument in August 2023, aiming to protect tribal lands. Heaton, represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, filed a lawsuit challenging the designation, stating, “I would love to see the monument go away, and that a court declares that the monument’s illegal.”

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Heaton, contends that the monument exposes him to regulatory burdens and potential criminal penalties for routine ranching activities. Heaton, who maintains several springs and removes trees to protect water supplies, could face penalties under the Antiquities Act. The legal challenge calls for the court to declare the monument illegal, citing the president’s lack of authority for such actions.

President Biden’s fact sheet on the designation emphasized the land’s significance to local Native American tribes. The monument’s creation blocked new uranium mining claims on a vast expanse of land, including essential mineral deposits for nuclear energy.

Heaton and his legal representative, Frank Garrison of the Pacific Legal Foundation, also called for reforms to the Antiquities Act of 1906. Garrison stressed the need for clearer definitions and procedural steps, advocating for public input in the designation process, similar to other conservation designations.

Heaton highlighted the lack of consultation with ranchers in the area before Biden’s declaration, expressing concern about potential changes in the working relationship between ranchers and federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). He noted that relations with the BLM have historically been crucial in the ranching world in the Arizona strip.

As the legal battle unfolds, the White House has yet to respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on the matter.

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