Congress needs to hear that you support a new bill to protect our national monuments—including Giant Sequoia National Monument—from actions that threaten their natural and cultural resource values. The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019 would reinforce existing laws that safeguard the status of our presidentially designated national monuments. Save the Redwoods League continues to push for the protection of all our treasured national monuments, and we need your help.
As we wrote about last fall, our national monuments, including Giant Sequoia National Monument, are at risk of losing their protective monument status, opening them up to extractive practices, boundary reductions, and sales or transfers that are incompatible with protecting their natural, cultural, and scientific features. Then last December, President Donald Trump removed protections on more than 2 million acres of national monuments in Utah—the largest rollback of protected public lands in American history, setting a dangerous precedent for other national monuments. The good news is that momentum is growing across the country to protect our national monuments, and Congress is listening. Earlier this year, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., as well as numerous cosponsors including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced the America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act of 2019 (S. 367). U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland, D-N.M., and Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., introduced companion legislation in the House (HR 1050).
On March 13, Democrats on the House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing, aptly called “Forgotten Voices: The Inadequate Review and Improper Alteration of Our National Monuments.” Indigenous tribal leaders, the Utah state director of the Bureau of Land Management, and public land protection advocates gathered to revisit Trump’s presidential proclamations to remove protections on 2 million acres of Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.
At the root of the conflict is the opposition of the land transfer movement to the original Antiquities Act of 1906, which allows presidents to set aside federal lands as national monuments to protect areas of scientific, cultural, or historic interest. Once they are established, only Congress has the authority under the Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution to abolish or modify them. “The Antiquities Act makes it crystal clear: The president cannot just wipe away our treasured national monuments with the flick of a pen—because only Congress has the authority to change a national monument designation,” stressed Sen. Udall.
The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019 protects and enhances national monuments with three main provisions:
- It officially declares Congress’ support for the 52 national monuments established by presidents in both parties between January 1996 and October 2018 under their authority established by the Antiquities Act of 1906. These 52 national monuments include about half of the giant sequoia groves remaining in the world that are protected within Giant Sequoia National Monument; approximately 700 acres of coast redwoods within California Coastal National Monument; and nine other monuments in California.
- It reinforces existing law, which clearly states that presidential proclamations designating national monuments are valid and cannot be reduced, diminished, or revoked, except by an act of Congress.
- It further enhances protections for the presidentially designated national monuments.
Contact Your Members of Congress
- The League continues to push for the protection of all our national monuments, and we need your help. Use your voice. Let your Senators and Representatives know that you support the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019, and stand with the League to keep our monuments intact!
- Introduce yourself. Let your representative know where you are from and why you are reaching out.
- Mention your personal connection to the national monuments protected by the Antiquities Act.
- Consider sharing any of the talking points below that resonate with you.
- Please thank your members of Congress who are cosponsors for their support, and urge other members to support the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019.
- I strongly support the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019 and expect the U.S. Congress to protect our national monuments, as intended by the Antiquities Act for over a century.
- This bill would permanently protect more than 50 of America’s treasured monuments—including Giant Sequoia National Monument, which along with other protected lands, help fuel an $887 billion outdoor recreation industry, which sustains 7.6 million American jobs.
- This legislation preserves opportunities for hunting, tourism, scientific research, conservation, and cultural uses in national monuments and ensures monuments are properly resourced for stewardship and public access needs.
- I hope you will stand up and defend our national monuments by strengthening the Antiquities Act. To do otherwise will threaten our iconic public lands and protection of our natural history.