Editorial | GOP bill that would gut Antiquities Act ignores American conservation history
The misleadingly named “National Monument Creation and Protection Act,” which narrowly passed the House Natural Resources Committee last week, is an assault on our public land heritage. H.R. 3990 would make it harder to create new national monuments and would authorize presidents to reduce the size of all existing monuments, from the Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado to the Muir Woods in California.
One hundred and eleven years ago, Congress passed the Antiquities Act, empowering presidents to designate national monuments protecting federal lands that contain objects of interest. Congress believed swift presidential action is sometimes needed to protect threatened landscapes from private exploitation. Since then, 16 presidents, Republicans and Democrats alike, have created 157 national monuments on existing federal lands. Congress often followed up to give these lands even more protection, by converting presidentially-designated national monuments into some of our most cherished and visited national parks. These include the Grand Canyon, Zion, Olympic, Acadia, Saguaro, Death Valley, and thirty-two others.