Don't Let Congress Gut the Antiquities Act

We need your help! Congress is getting ready to vote on the National Monument Creation and Protection Act, a dangerous bill with a misleading name that seeks to dismantle the Antiquities Act, a law that has been used for over a hundred years to protect our American heritage and exceptional natural features on our public lands.


Photo courtesy of © Abbi Hearne

The Antiquities Act is a fundamental conservation law that allows the President to create national monuments in order to protect federal lands when Congress is unable or unwilling to do so. It has been used by both Republican and Democratic administrations to shape our national system of protected public lands. Several classic climbing areas, including Devils Tower and Joshua Tree (now a national park), were designated as national monuments through this Act.

This bill, sponsored by Utah Congressman Bishop (R-UT), would essentially gut the Antiquities Act by:

  1. Giving the President the authority to reduce an existing national monument without an act of Congress, which is currently illegal. Right now, there are 18 National Monuments that contain climbing opportunities―among them are crown jewels like Indian Creek in Utah, the Needles in California, and Devils Tower in Wyoming. If this bill is passed into law, President Trump and future presidents, could shrink or rescind national monuments like Bears Ears. A reduction of Bears Ears National Monument could expose Indian Creek and many other backcountry climbing areas to unmitigated oil and gas development. This bill threatens all 129 national monuments and puts many climbing areas across the country at risk.
  2. Prohibiting landscape-scale protections for sensitive landscapes and exceptional natural features like Grand Canyon (now a national park), Black Canyon of the Gunnison (now a national park), and Bears Ears. Instead, it would only allow discrete, small-scale cultural and historic resource sites to be protected. Prohibiting landscape-scale protections without regard for the actual size of the area that needs protection is problematic because ecosystems, geographic features, historic and archaeological resources, and Native American traditional values are all interconnected. And they all contribute to high-quality recreation experiences.
  3. Making it more difficult to invoke the Antiquities Act by mandating additional approval processes before the President could designate a national monument.

Take action today! The House of Representatives will vote on this bill soon. Please take 5 minutes and write your Congressional representatives and tell them to oppose the National Monument Creation and Protection Act. The integrity of the Antiquities Act must be maintained in order to protect our public lands, recreation experience, and American heritage.