Bill reinforces that only Congress can alter national monuments; directs new resources to enhance existing monuments
Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, along with 17 Democratic senators, today introduced legislation to enhance protections for national monuments against the Trump administration's unprecedented attacks on public lands. The America's Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act of 2018 reinforces Congress' intent in the Antiquities Act of 1906: only Congress has the authority to modify a national monument designation.
"The designation of Bears Ears National Monument protected sacred land, gave local tribes a voice in its management, and reflected the wishes of communities whose cultures and economies are grounded in this area. The President's attempt over the past year to remove protections for Bears Ears and other national monuments is unprecedented and a shameful addition to our nation's long and tragic history of broken promises to our tribes," Bennet said. "With my colleagues, I will work to advance this bill to enhance protections for Bears Ears, Canyons of the Ancients, and other existing national monuments - putting an end to this administration's continuous attempts to tear down our country's legacy of protecting wild and sacred places."
The ANTIQUITIES Act comes in response to President Trump's announcement that he will eliminate 2 million acres of protections for Utah's Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments - the largest rollback of federally protected lands in American history. The President took this action despite the fact that Americans across the country-including many Coloradans-overwhelmingly voiced support for keeping the monuments intact. During the administration's public comment process, over 99 percent of the 2.8 million comments received were in favor of maintaining existing protections for our national monuments.
Bennet has worked with tribal leadership, including from the Ute Mountain Ute tribe and Southern Ute tribe, to support and defend the designation of Bears Ears National Monument and ensure that tribal voices are considered in the management of the monument. The five Bears Ears Coalition Tribes (Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni) support the ANTIQUITIES Act.
Last week, Bennet also met with small business owners from around the state of Colorado to discuss his commitment to protecting public lands. America's national monuments and protected public lands help fuel an $887 billion outdoor recreation industry, which sustains 7.6 million jobs and creates $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $59.2 billion in local and state tax revenue.
More background on Bennet's involvement in protecting Bears Ears and other national monuments is available HERE.
The ANTIQUITIES Act protects and enhances national monuments in three main provisions:
- It officially declares Congress' support for the 51 national monuments established by presidents in both parties between January 1996 and April 2017 under their authority established by the Antiquities Act of 1906.
- It reinforces that existing law clearly states that presidential proclamations designating national monuments are valid and cannot be reduced or diminished, except by an act of Congress.
- It further enhances protections for the presidentially designated national monuments by 1) requiring that they be surveyed, mapped, and that management plans be completed in two years-in the same manner as congressionally designated national monuments-and 2) that they receive additional resources to ensure that they will continue to meet their full potential of providing unmatched economic, recreational, and cultural benefits to their states and to the nation.
A summary of the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2018 is available HERE.