Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming
Susan Wilkinson via Pinterest
Celebrating 107 years of national monuments
With the stroke of a pen, the Antiquities Act allows the president to protect America’s wildlands and historical sites as national monuments. Since its establishment in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents— both Republican and Democratic – to preserve places like the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty.
Designation as a national monument protects the land from threats such as vandalism, unnecessary development and inappropriate drilling and mining.
The Antiquities Act protects the habitat that a variety of species calls home. But the Act does more than that: it allows future generations to cherish their beauty and significance for years to come.
And thanks to President Obama’s designation of five new national monuments this spring, we have a lot to celebrate! These new areas—including the Río Grande del Norte National Monument and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument—add over 250,000 acres of protected lands to the map!
Our national monuments represent America’s natural, cultural and historical legacy and heritage. Without this Act, Devils Tower, with its 1,267-foot-tall vertical walls might not exist. Or, the 800-foot Spider Rock spire, thought to be the home of the Navajo’s creator of the world, might have been buried beneath man-made infrastructure. Or, the Giant Sequoia trees—taller than fifty individuals stacked on top of each other—might have been cleared.
Yet many uniquely American public lands continue to lack the protection they deserve and are threatened by expanding energy development and abuse. We hope that President Obama will continue to protect America’s great places by using the Antiquities Act to put conservation on equal ground with energy development.
This piece was written by Jessie Kaliski, a 2013 summer intern at The Wilderness Society.