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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- Monday, December 5, 2016
As leaders of the U.S. environmental movement, we are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American, of many creeds, faiths and religions. We come from diverse backgrounds and near infinite preferences and beliefs. But above all, we are concerned individuals and concerned members of the human race.
- Sunday, December 4, 2016“Today’s decision to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline and to call for a full environmental review of alternative routes is welcome and positive news,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. “The Army Corps of Engineers is right to recognize that Native nations were not meaningfully consulted on a project with such high risks to their sovereign lands and drinking water.
- Thursday, December 1, 2016
The Bureau of Land Management has released its final version of its Planning 2.0 regulation, which has helped shape progress the BLM has made in its land use planning. The Wilderness Society applauds this effort and has already seen examples of smart planning in effect.