The Grand Canyon. The Statue of Liberty. Acadia. Denali. Without a little-known law called the Antiquities Act, a number of America’s most cherished treasures might not be safeguarded today. But even though our national monuments enjoy broad support nationwide, some members of Congress are attempting to eliminate protections and change the law to make it more difficult to conserve any additional public land using the Antiquities Act.
The Antiquities Act of 1906, signed by President Teddy Roosevelt, gives presidents the authority to protect places of scientific, historic, and cultural value as national monuments. Sixteen Presidents—eight Republicans and eight Democrats—have used the Antiquities Act to safeguard public lands, oceans, and historic sites in order to share America’s story with future generations. National monuments, many of which later became national parks, provide myriad benefits to local communities, including economic boosts from tourism, places to enjoy the outdoors, clean air and water, conservation of ecologically sensitive areas, and windows into our country’s history.
Today, several bills have been introduced in Congress that make it almost impossible for a president to safeguard other deserving public lands using the Antiquities Act, in addition to legislation that would weaken existing national monument protections. This follows action by President Donald Trump to significantly diminish Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, and recommendations by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reduce protections for other national monuments across the country, including Cascade-Siskiyou on the Oregon-California border and Gold Butte in Nevada.
It is imperative that we speak up when our public lands and the bedrock laws used to protect them are under threat. Please send a message to your members of Congress today!