Monomoy Conflict


That's how we feel about the prospect of the new administration in Washington being more amenable to rolling back the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's claim to somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 acres of the waters and submerged lands west of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. We've already stated our agreement with town and state officials that the federal agency overreached by including ownership and oversight of the area in its comprehensive conservation plan for Monomoy and supported legislation to preclude the Fish and Wildlife Service from exercising that authority. The town and state have done an excellent job of stewardship over the resources within that chunk of Nantucket Sound, and there's no reason for the feds to try to take over that role now.

The changes in Washington leave open more ways to accomplish that goal.

The new Republican-dominated Congress is likely to be more amendable to the legislation given the leadership's friendliness to curtailing federal authority in all its many and varied forms, including this extension of federal ownership into state territory. Perhaps more importantly, Interior Department and Fish and Wildlife Service officials appointed by the Trump administration may be amenable to revisiting the issue and applying an administrative rather than legislative fix. Those officials are likely to see this as a way to curtail federal oversight and limit the size of the federal government, both stated goals of this administration. This may be a quicker way to accomplish the town and state's goal. And while we don't agree with Trump's call for rolling back federal regulations – eliminating two for every one new rule, as called for in his recent executive order – because its blanket nature is irresponsible. But in this case, fewer federal rules – one fewer, actually – makes sense and would serve the public good.

So Chatham could stand to benefit from a political position that we disagree with in general. It would also make sense to follow through with the legislation, which memorialize Monomoy's western boundary for good, thus eliminating the possibility that the next comprehensive conservation plan, or another administration, could once again usurp local control over the disputed area.