Rancher Furious with Biden's New Monument, Shares How It'll Hurt His Ranch: 'Shoving It Down Our Throats'


The Biden administration’s designation of over a million acres of land near the Grand Canyon as a national monument comes at a serious cost, according to a Utah rancher.

The new Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni — Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument not only threatens the ranching operation Chris Heaton’s family has run since the 19th century, but could harm the environment and lock up energy sources, he said.

Prominent Utah Republicans agree.

The environmental threat is contrary to one of the lofty goals Biden claims for the land grab — fighting climate change.

And it comes at great cost to Heaton, who ranches 40 miles north of the Grand Canyon. “We’ve been just devastated,” he told Fox News on Tuesday.

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“We graze out here on the Arizona strip, which is the strip of land in Arizona that’s north of the Colorado River,” Heaton said. “We’ve been here since the late 1800s, my family have, and this monument really impacts us.

“They’re shoving it down our throats,” Heaton went on. “They’re telling us that we’re gonna like it, but they’re not telling us what it will do and how it will help or hurt us. There’s no management plan, there’s nothing in place.”

A minor bright spot for Heaton is that, unlike earlier renditions, a map of the monument released Tuesday no longer showed 1,000 acres of his private property as part of the monument.

But it still represents a problem for him. “I have 40,000-plus acres of federal and state land that I lease from the federal [government] and the state of Arizona, and that is impacted,” Heaton said.

Do you support this new national monument?

“And with that land, we own private water rights that are definitely affected and they’re not addressing how those private water rights will be affected by this monument,” he said.

“Out here on the Arizona strip, there’s no live water,” Heaton continued. “So all the wildlife — the mule deer and the antelope — and then all the livestock is watered by stock ponds and springs and wells that are owned and maintained by the ranchers.

“And if they push us off, little by little, which this monument most likely will do, they get rid of the water sources which then harms the environment, including the wildlife.”

Asked by Fox co-host Sean Duffy about the monument locking up access to uranium, Heaton said uranium mining in the area has been under a 10-year moratorium set to expire in another decade.

He described past mining operations as beneficial to ranchers. He called the miners “excellent neighbors” functioning as “another set of eyes” who helped with water issues, sick and stray cattle, and year-round maintenance of roads.

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Not approved by Congress, President Joe Biden’s appropriation of 1,500 square miles for the monument near Grand Canyon National Park has met with criticism from Gov. Spencer Cox and both Utah senators, all Republicans.

“Massive, landscape-scale monuments like this are a mistake,” Cox said in a news release. “These designations increase visitation without providing any additional resources for law enforcement and infrastructure to protect sensitive areas.

“They also needlessly restrict access to the critical minerals that are key to cell phones, satellites, U.S. defense systems and so many other American industries.”

Sen. Mitt Romney described the monument as part of the executive branch’s ongoing abuse of the Antiquities Act and highlighted the threat to nearby ranchers and the loss of “one of the most productive uranium mining districts in the country.”

“By eliminating this important source of uranium, President Biden has increased both our dependence on Russia and China and our ultimate carbon footprint, while decreasing our energy efficiency,” a statement from Romney said.

According to KJZZ-TV, Sen. Mike Lee described the monument as “a poorly thought-out strategy with potentially catastrophic impacts.”

Besides affecting local ranchers, the monument will “tie up one of our few domestic sources of uranium, a critical component in carbon-free nuclear energy production.”

Lee said the move represents “a disturbing trend toward a top-down management that Democrat presidential administrations have consistently showcased.”

Perhaps locking up land near the Grand Canyon has nothing to do with throwing a bone to Native Americans or providing better weather a hundred years from now.

Follow the behavior of the Biden administration on other energy issues.

First it came for “dirty” energy sources like oil and natural gas. Now it’s seemingly coming for the cleanest energy source of them all — nuclear power derived from uranium.

Because if the solution to our “green” energy problem turns out to be lying buried in Arizona, how could Democrats continue selling (and profiting off) their “climate emergency” shtick? Better keep it buried.

Chris Heaton and his family have a problem. And it looks like we all do, too.

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Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.