Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Alaska) was originally protected as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.
Credit: NPS, flickr.
Three new measures (S. Amendment 132, S.228, and H.R.330) could gut the Antiquities Act, which has been used on a bipartisan basis by presidents to protect natural and historic landmarks for over a century.
If these bills are passed, the president’s ability to protect wildlands will be sever hampered.
Some of America’s most iconic parks and other public lands, including Grand Canyon National Park, Acadia National Park and Muir Woods National Monument, were first protected under this law, which enables presidents to take action when Congress is unable to act swiftly to protect public lands—oftentimes even in the face of broad public support.
Olympic National Park (Washington), first protected under the Antiquities Act in 1909. Credit: Javier Velasquez-Muriel, flickr.
Given Congress’ inability to accomplish conservation goals in recent years, the Antiquities Act is more important than ever.
In 2014, President Barack Obama used the law to designate New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and California’s San Gabriel Mountains National Monument while expanding protection for two existing monuments in California and the Pacific Ocean.
If these bills to block public lands protection pass, we will be back where we started: with public lands conservation measures languishing in Congress, and natural and historical landmarks cherished by the American people unable to get the protection they deserve.