With the stroke of a pen, the president of the United States can protect natural, historical and cultural wonders by designating them as national monuments. The president can do this by using the Antiquities Act, a law enacted by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Perhaps one of the greatest powers bestowed up the president of the United States is the ability to protect America’s treasures by using the Antiquities Act. Sixteen presidents — from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama — have used the Antiquities Act to protect places big and small across the United States.
National monument designation is a form of protection most like a National Conservation Area (NCA). National monuments are flexible designations that allow for a true conservation balance between development and the need to protect our most treasured places for our children and grandchildren.
Photo: Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, N.M., by BLM New Mexico
National monuments can either be established by Congress though legislation or by the president of the United States through the use of the Antiquities Act.
Sometimes when the wheels of Congress move too slowly, or there is extreme partisan gridlock, the use of the Antiquities Act is welcomed, especially when cries for protection on the ground have hit a brick wall in Congress.
America celebrates more than 100 national monuments, many of which were designated through the use of the Antiquities Act.
Some of our most beloved places are here today thanks to the Antiquities Act. This popular law is used by the president to designate national monuments. Since its enactment in 1906, the majority of U.S. presidents have used it. The Antiquities Act has protected well known places like the Grand Canyon, which was a national monument before it gained national park status, and lesser known places, like the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
Got a question about national monuments? We have some some great FAQs that can help.
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- Tuesday, June 30, 2015
In a move to protect marine mammals, the Obama administration today told Royal Dutch Shell that it would not be allowed to simultaneously drill two exploratory wells less than 15 miles apart in the Arctic Ocean. The announcement forces Shell to scale back its drilling plans for this summer.
- Tuesday, June 30, 2015
The Wilderness Society and the Arizona Wilderness Coalition commend Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Dist. 3) for reintroducing legislation designed to preserve critical wildlife habitat and recreation west of Phoenix, safeguard the viability of Luke Air Force Base and the Barry M. Goldwater Range, and protect environmental amenities to boost economic opportunities for West Valley communities.
- Thursday, June 25, 2015
The legislation will support efforts to make droughts like the one the Yakima Basin is experiencing this year less of a hardship for both farms and fish.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced a bill (S.1694) with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) co-sponsoring, titled the “Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement III Act of 2015,” that builds on two previous Yakima River water management laws to authorize projects and funding for the first phase of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan (Yakima Plan).