Since 1906, presidents from both sides of the aisle have used the Antiquities Act to protect spectacular and important landscapes with recreation, cultural and habitat values as national monuments and national parks. Without this act, we may never have been able to visit such iconic landscapes in the American West as Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Zion National Park, Olympic National Park and even Idaho’s own Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.
Labrador Takes Aim at the Act
But on May 2, Rep. RaÃºl Labrador and some of his colleagues took aim at this national bedrock act by introducing H.R. 2284, a bill that would undo a president’s ability to preserve or protect our national treasures. Labrador proposes replacing this power with a lengthy process that requires both congressional review and state approval before monuments could be designated.
The introduction of Labrador’s bill to gut the Antiquities Act follows on the heels of President Donald Trump’s executive order that directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review monuments designated since 1996 and recommend any legislative or administrative changes.
The Bill Doesn’t Reflect American Values
The American public overwhelmingly supports our national monuments. A 2016 survey by the Hart Research Center for American Progress found that 86% of respondents supported establishing new national monuments and wildlife refuges to protect special places and at-risk wildlife. In addition, 67% wanted new national parks created to serve underrepresented populations of Americans.
One question asked, “If your representative in Congress took a strong stand in support of policies to protect and strengthen the national parks, what would your reaction be?” Nearly 80% of Republicans respondents had favorable responses, and 88% of Democrats agreed. Granted, the survey wasn’t about the Antiquities Act, but it clearly shows strong support for America’s national parks and monuments.
Up until now, no president has attempted to revoke a predecessor’s monument designations. Dismantling this important law would unravel over 100 years of work recognizing our country’s long history and its unique lands while contributing to local economies. It threatens to undermine our most treasured public lands and set a terrible precedent that preservation of these places is negotiable.
We would like to see Rep. Labrador rescind H.R. 2284 and recognize that Americans treasure these lands. Take action now! Send him a respectful email and let him know that you support our nation’s cherished landscapes. Tell him to abandon this attack on the Antiquities Act and add why you cherish national parks and monuments, especially Craters of the Moon.