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, May 8, 2015
The BLM is required to address impacts to wildlands and wildlife habitat on our public lands from major transmission development. The agency can do so by selecting routes that avoid sensitive areas or offsetting unavoidable impacts by protecting nearby lands.
- Saturday, March 14, 2015
Broad public input on a plan for the California desert has prompted a new approach to the effort.