Editorial: National Monument pursuit sure to catch locals by surprise

It’s been said that politics is the art of compromise.

And in the case of the much-discussed Sedona Verde Valley Red Rock National Monument proposal, there certainly has been compromise.

When debated seemingly ad nauseum in 2015 and 2016, the monument plan called for 160,000 acres. The plan submitted this week to the to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality and Federal Departments of Agriculture and Interior has been scaled back to 80,000 acres.

Credit the proponents of this movement for listening to their critics and submitting a mitigated monument plan based on public comment. Credit them with practicing the political art of compromise.

But it’s suspect that this compromise plan will sit well with the public. Remember, in community forums throughout the Verde Valley and Sedona over the past 18 months, this national monument plan was hardly greeted with open arms. It also bears emphasis that the plan was soundly rejected in a 6-1 vote by the Sedona City Council.

A cynic would view this week’s mitigated formal application for National Monument status to be an 11th-hour Hail Mary while President Obama still can employ Antiquities Act powers, without the chance for the public to weigh in on the plan.

The public was quite vocal over the proposal to convert 160,000 acres of Sedona-Verde Valley public lands into a national monument. They did not get the same chance to share their feelings over this new plan, and it’s a fair guess that it is in fact catching most locals by surprise.

While this latest move is indeed the embodiment of the political art of compromise, there is also some political sleight of hand at play here.

The old end run.

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