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.
Add your voice to important wilderness causes and take action to stop threats to our wildlands by joining our community of wilderness activists.
There are many ways to play in the wild places we work to protect. Find your next wild destination among our top experiences.
Find fact sheets, reports and other resources related to wilderness policy and conservation.
- Friday, February 27, 2015
The BLM’s Tres Rios Field Office issued a final plan today that could have balanced a number of issues, ranging from wilderness-quality lands to oil and gas leasing to protection of remarkable cultural artifacts, including those at Mesa Verde National Park.
- Thursday, February 26, 2015
The bill, jointly introduced by Rep. Simpson and Senator Jim Risch (R), eliminates important wild areas that have been recommended for wilderness protection by the U.S. Forest Service for nearly 30 years and significantly reduces the wilderness acreage designation from previous legislative versions, lopping off areas to cater to motorized recreation and heli-skiing.
- Thursday, February 19, 2015
The Every Kid in a Park initiative will provide 4th grade students and their families free admission to all national parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year, support transportation for school trips, and provide educational resources for students and teachers through field classrooms and digital materials.