Here we go again. Congress is attacking special places this week, this time by trying to dismantle the Antiquities Act, the mechanism that has safeguarded some of our nation’s most beloved national parks and monuments for future generations (nearly half of our national parks began as national monuments).
The Antiquities Act was Teddy Roosevelt’s idea, and has been used consistently by presidents of both parties to quickly protect America’s threatened special places. In Utah alone, Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks all started as national monuments, and Natural Bridges, Timpanogos Cave and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments all remain popular family destinations and economic drivers to this day — not to mention natural and cultural wonders.
H.R. 1459, sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), throws up roadblocks to protecting places like these by arbitrarily capping where and when the Antiquities Act can be used. It also requires congressional review of proposed monuments when the purpose of the Act is to allow the President to move quickly to protect threatened cultural, archaeological, natural and scientific sites of national interest.
At a time when the House of Representatives is stalling on countless conservation bills, it’s a pity they can find the time to bring legislation like this to a vote.