The Wilderness Society condemns hearing to block Antiquities Act

Sep 13, 2011

Editor's note: The name and bill number of the “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act” (H.R 2834) has been changed to the “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act” (H.R. 4089)

Hearing comes amid unprecedented attacks on America’s recreation economy

The Wilderness Society today strongly condemned the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands’ hearing on six bills that would limit the president’s ability to designate national monuments using the Antiquities Act. The hearing comes during an onslaught of attacks from House leadership on our nation’s lands and the recreation economy they support.

The six bills being heard all chip away at the Antiquities Act which has been used to designate and protect national monuments by 15 presidents – both Republican and Democratic -- since it was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. All of the presidents who used the Antiquities Act – from Theodore Roosevelt to George W. Bush – have had the foresight to use this bipartisan tool to protect some of our nation’s most treasured natural and cultural wonders, from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty.

"The designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument didn’t just help the economy. It is the economy,” said Steve Roberts, the owner of Escalante Outfitters in Utah.  “My business increased by 25% this year, and we’ve seen similar increases since the designation. Each year, more and more people come because of the monument and the surrounding protected lands.”

On top of the bills attacking the Antiquities Act, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy has introduced the Great Outdoors Giveaway that would essentially give a blank check to corporate polluters to exploit wilderness. Additionally, Rep. Dan Benishek (R, MI-1) recently introduced the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act which includes a provision that would eviscerate the Wilderness Act of 1964.

“These bills are out of touch with what the American people care about,” said Ryan Bidwell, associate director of the National Monuments Campaign at The Wilderness Society.  “Time and again, including just this winter with the Continuing Resolution, the majority of Representatives and Senators have voted against bills weakening the Antiquities Act. This hearing represents another barrage in a long line of misguided attacks on our lands and waters, and on our recreation economy.”

Below, please find background information on the bills being brought up at the hearing, including national monuments in the sponsors’ states and the Outdoor Industry Association’s analysis of the economic benefits of outdoor recreation, where available:

• H.R. 758: Mandates certain procedures for designating national monuments (Devin Nunes (R, CA-21)), and
• H.R 817: Mandates additional requirements for national monuments (Wally Herger (R, CA-2))

Eight national monuments in California: Cabrillo established by President Wilson in 1913; California Coastal designated by President Clinton in 2000; Carrizo Plains designated by President Clinton in 2001; Devils Postpile designated by President Taft in 1911; Giant Sequoia designated by President Clinton in 2000; Lava Beds designated by President Coolidge in 1925; Muir Woods designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908; and Pinnacles designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.

California’s Outdoor recreation economic impact: $46 billion annually to California’s economy; supports 408,000 jobs across California.

• H.R. 845: Bars new national monuments in Montana (Denny Rehbert (R, MT-At large))

Two national monuments in Montana: Pompey's Pillar and the Upper Missouri River Breaks, both designated by President Clinton in 2001.

Montana’s outdoor recreation economic impact: Contributes $2.5 billion annually to Montana’s economy; Supports 34,000 jobs across the state
• H.R. 846: Bars new national monuments in Idaho (Raúl Labrador (R, ID-1))

Two national monuments in Idaho: Craters of the Moon designated by President Coolidge in 1924; Minidoka Internment designated by President Clinton in 2001.

Idaho’s outdoor recreation impact:  Supports 37,000 jobs across the state.

• H.R. 2147: Bars new national monuments in Utah without Congressional consent (Rob Bishop (R, UT-1))

Five national monuments in Utah: Cedar Breaks designated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933; Grand Staircase-Escalante designated by President Clinton in 1996; Natural Bridges designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908; Timpanogos Cave designated by President Harding in 1922; Hovenweep designated in 1923 by President Harding.

Utah’s outdoor recreation impact: Contributes $5.8 billion annually to the state’s economy; supports 65,000 jobs across the state.

• H.R. 302: Mandates state approval of national monuments (Virginia Fox (R, NC-5))

National Monuments: NA
Economic Impact: NA