National monuments under attack: Lawmakers target Antiquities Act

Anti-wilderness lawmakers in Washington, DC have their sights set again on our natural heritage – this time on eradicating the president’s ability to protect extraordinary American lands through national monument status.

This week, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources is holding a hearing on a suite of bills that would limit the president’s authority to designate national monuments using the Antiquities Act.

The hearing is only the latest in what has been a steady onslaught of Congressional efforts to undermine conservation policies this year.

If the president’s ability to use the Antiquities Act is undermined, Americans will lose a critical tool for the preservation of our public lands for future generations, and states may lose local economic benefits that are created by recreation at national monuments. For example, in California outdoor recreation drives $46 billion annually to California’s economy; and supports 408,000 jobs across the state.

Perhaps just as sad is the loss of a bipartisan American tradition. Established in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used by 15 presidents -- from Theodore Roosevelt to George W. Bush -- to protect some of our nation’s most beloved natural, cultural and historical places from Florida to Alaska.

The Wilderness Society will be at the hearing covering the event via Twitter, and setting the record straight on the importance of national monuments to our natural heritage and 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. Then check out the list of some of the wonderful national monuments that might not be protected today if such bills were existed before now.

In California:

•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.


In Idaho:

•H.R. 846: Bars new national monuments in Idaho (Raúl Labrador (R, ID-1))


In Montana:

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


In Utah:

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


In Virginia:

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

  • National Monuments: NA
  • Economic Impact: NA