09:40 PM

Bishop Bill Takes Aim at Antiquities Act


WASHINGTON  ­– Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT 1) today submitted for markup H.R. 3990, a bill that threatens to dismantle the Antiquities Act, the 1906 law that gives the President of the United States authority to establish national monuments.

Statement from Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark:

"Rep. Bishop and the bill’s cosponsors want to dismantle the Antiquities Act, a major conservation tool that led to the establishment of nearly half of our national parks. H.R. 3990 would block the designation of future monuments, sabotage wildlife connectivity and open the door for the oil and gas industry to ravage sensitive public lands and waters. Monuments provide vital habitat and climate refugia for thousands of species of fish, wildlife and plants, including hundreds protected under the Endangered Species Act. Congress should stop this bill in its tracks."


Visit our National Monuments Reporter Resources page, with background info, comments, video, photos, past statements and blogs.

H.R. 3990 would:

  • Block presidents from using the Antiquities Act to protect wildlife habitat, oceans and other natural features (thus excluding areas of extraordinary scientific value like the Grand Canyon, which was originally protected as a National Monument before being designated as a National Park);
  • Arbitrarily limit the president’s authority to designate national monuments to areas 85,000 acres or less in size;
  • Give the president the executive authority (which the President does not currently have) to reduce the size of national monuments by up to 85,000 acres;
  • Require designation of any national monument over 640 acres to undergo a federal environmental review;
  • Require approval from the governors and legislatures of all states within the boundaries of any proposed national monument between 10,000 and 85,000 acres;
  • Impede national monument lands from retaining water rights; and
  • Prohibit the boundaries of any two national monuments from being within 50 miles of each other (unless the designation has been subject to environmental review and, for monuments above 10,000 acres, state approval).

The Antiquities Act

  • The Antiquities Act of 1906, the federal law that empowers the president to designate national monuments through public proclamation, marked its 111th anniversary this year.
  • Since its inception, 16 presidents – 8 Republicans and 8 Democrats – have carefully implemented this law to preserve environmental, scientific, historical and cultural values on public lands and waters for all Americans.
  • The Antiquities Act was designed expressly to allow for swift and necessary action when Congress is either unable or unwilling to act to protect irreplaceable resources from potential threats. This legislation would prevent the emergency response often needed to preserve important lands.
  • Nearly half of America’s national parks began as national monuments including the Grand Canyon, Acadia, Zion, Muir Woods, and Olympic National Parks.

National Monuments Administrative Review

  • President Trump issued an executive order on April 26, 2017, calling for a “review” of certain national monuments designated or expanded since 1996. The Department of the Interior subsequently identified 27 terrestrial and marine monuments for review in accordance with the president’s direction.

  • Nearly 3 million people weighed in on the national monuments review over the summer, many of whom opposed this and any action that diminishes our national monuments.

  • On Sept. 18, major news outlets publicized a leaked memo from the Department of the Interior that recommends downsizing some national monuments and marine national monuments while increasing extractive resource uses in others.


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.