Newly introduced legislation seeks to modernize Antiquities Act

By Chris Heck

Last Friday, Representative Rob Bishop, R-Utah, introduced the National Monument Creation and Protection Act, H.R.3990. The legislation seeks to modernize the Antiquities Act by protecting the president’s ability to establish a national monument and, based on the monument’s proposed size, ensuring local government and community voices have been heard.

Earlier this week, the House Natural Resources Committee held a mark-up session on the legislation. Upon conclusion of the session, the committee voted in favor of moving the legislation on to the full House.

In January, NACD signed on to a letter sent to then President-elect Donald Trump that stressed the necessity of updating the 111-year-old Antiquities Act. Currently, the act does not provide explicit requirements for the president to consult with local and state authorities on the designation of national monuments. The letter – in expressing its concern about this missing language – encouraged Mr. Trump to enact legislation that would require a public process by which landowners and local governments could make their voices heard on future designations.

Local communities should have the opportunity to review and comment on national monument designations prior to any designation being declared. National monument designations can sometimes inadvertently lead to the creation of permanent “museums” where conservation and effective natural resource management is excluded. In these cases, there is a violation of “multiple use” – the first tenet of American public lands management – and an unfortunate neglect of the land and wildlife.

NACD is currently reviewing the legislation. For further information regarding the Antiquities Act, check out this NACD blog post from March.

Chris Heck, NACD government affairs associate, can be reached by email at chris-heck@nacdnet.org.

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