League of Conservation Voters spending big against Lamborn on public lands

Author: Joey Bunch - August 17, 2017 - Updated: August 18, 2017


The League of Conservation Voters, a left-leaning environmental group, plans to spend $100,000 on ads to “urge” Rep. Doug Lamborn, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and other three other members to Congress to back off national monuments.

Zinke is reviewing large national monuments designated by presidents since 1996, including the Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah. Colorado leaders have received assurances that Canyons of the Ancients near Cortez won’t be on the hit list.

Zinke’s report is due in a week, Aug. 24.

The campaign also targets Republican Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Doug LaMalfa of California.

National monument status protects valued American assets from energy production and other development, say supporters.

The League of Conservation voters notes that Lamborn is a membrer of the “anti-public lands Congressional Western Caucus” and supports Zinke’s review.

In 2015, when President Obama set aside 21,000 in Browns Canyon between Buena Vista and Poncha Springs as a national monument, Lamborn said he was outraged because of its grazing and water resources.

Lamborn called it “a top-down, big-government land grab by the president that disenfranchises the concerned citizens in the Browns Canyon region.”

In a statement released by the Western Caucus in June about a letter of support to Zinke, Laumborn said:

“In its original conception, the Antiquities Act was intended to protect ruins and artifacts on federal lands. Since then, the law has become another tool for federal overreach that allows the federal government to control large areas of land without any input from Congress. I am pleased to join many of my colleagues in the Western Caucus in this letter to Secretary Zinke. Our letter recommends that the Department of the Interior review monument designations—including marine monuments and several sites in the West. I believe that this review of monuments will allow for greater state control of fisheries and better management of our natural resources and recreation areas.”

Coloradans cherish public lands, said Scott Braden, the wilderness and public lands advocate for Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental organization.

“While the Trump administration’s mysterious review criteria spared Canyons of the Ancients, this unprecedented attack opens the door to drastic changes to public lands across the West,” Braden said in a statement released by the League of Conservation Voters.

Lamborn’s office declined to comment about the ads, which started running Wednesday on Facebook and Instagram.

Another set of ads urge Americans to call Zinke’s office to oppose reclassifying or amending monuments.

“It’s time for Secretary Zinke to stop playing games with our public lands, our waters and our national monuments,” Gene Karpinski, the league’s president, said in a statement. “People across the country have spoken out and shared their stories of the value these special places bring their communities, from boosting local economies to preserving our cultural heritage for the next generation.

“But Zinke is treating our national monuments like contestants on a reality TV show, and his anti-public lands allies in Congress are enabling this dangerous agenda. Let’s be clear: If the Trump administration attempts to revoke protections for our national monuments, the millions of families who hike, fish, and enjoy our parks and public lands won’t sit on the sidelines while they sell out these special places to polluters.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include other members of Congress who are the focus of other ads.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.