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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Find fact sheets, reports and other resources related to wilderness policy and conservation.
- Monday, March 27, 2017
Today, President Trump signed an executive order with multiple environmental rollbacks that will harm public lands. The sweeping directive targets policies to undo the Clean Power Plan and undoes the pause in the federal coal program. It also strikes down guidelines that were put in place to ensure climate pollution considerations were part of the environmental review process, reverses rules to minimize methane pollution and rejects science determining how to calculate the cost of carbon emissions to society.
- Monday, March 20, 2017
The state of New Mexico has sold 4 million acres of state trust lands to private interests and extractive industries, some of which endanger the health, environment, and economy of local communities, according to a report released this week by The Wilderness Society.
- Friday, March 17, 2017
The most recent paper, “Wild, connected, and diverse: building a more resilient system of protected areas,” will be published in Ecological Applications, a journal of the Ecological Society of America.
Authors: R. Travis Belote, Matthew S. Dietz, Clinton N. Jenkins, Peter S. McKinley, G. Hugh Irwin, Timothy J. Fullman, Jason C. Leppi, Gregory H. Aplet.