Press Release – House Bill Seeks to Prevent New Parks, Land Protections

Bill Faces Fierce Opposition from Broad Coalition

Washington, DC (March 24, 2014) – On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representative will consider H.R. 1459, a bill conservationists are dubbing the “Preventing New National Parks Bill.”  This bill is opposed by veterans, Hispanic and African American groups, outdoor industry groups, sportsmen, preservation and public land advocates who are organizing quickly to demonstrate the harm the bill would do to America’s conservation heritage.

“The Preventing New National Parks Bill would eviscerate the Antiquities Act, our nation’s most important land conservation tool and it would prevent new park and public lands protections,” said Brian O’Donnell, Executive Director, Conservation Lands Foundation.  “If National Parks are ‘America’s best idea’ then this bill has to be America’s worst idea.”

H.R 1459, would limit Presidential authority under the Antiquities Act to act swiftly to protect iconic historical, cultural, and natural sites.  Since President Teddy Roosevelt pushed for the passage of the Antiquities Act, it has been used on a bipartisan basis by 16 Presidents (8 Republicans and 8 Democrats) to protect America’s most iconic natural, cultural, and historic places: the Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty, Fort Pulaski, Acadia, Zion and Olympic National Parks.  Half of our National Parks were originally protected using the Antiquities Act.

“This bill would break the tool that Republican and Democratic presidents have used for more than a century to protect iconic places like the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty and Arches National Park. That’s wildly out of step with the passion Americans feel about our National Parks, which was on display during last year’s government shutdown,” said  Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters.

“Without the Antiquities Act there would be no Grand Canyon National Park, no Devils Tower National Monument, no Acadia National Park, no Grand Teton National Park and the list goes on. Protecting our public lands through the use of the Antiquities Act has been a non-partisan tradition in our country that needs to be preserved,” said Joan Anzelmo, spokesperson, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

The Preventing New National Parks bill is part of a larger effort by the House of Representatives to block land protection measures.  With the exception of a bill to protect wilderness lands in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in March, Congress had not protected a single new acre of public lands since 2009, the longest such drought since World War II.

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