Press Release – Century-old Tradition of Protecting America’s Heritage Attacked

Statement from Conservation Lands Foundation on Murkowski Effort to Gut the Antiquities Act

WASHINGTON, DC (February 11, 2015) – On Wednesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced legislation which would obstruct communities’ efforts to safeguard important historic, cultural, and natural sites by actively trying to dismantle the law that protected the Grand Canyon.

“This bill is a misguided effort to dismantle our nation’s most important land conservation tool and it would prevent new park and public lands protections. This legislation is out of step with the vast majority of American’s who support the protection of our natural and historic sites and want a balanced approach to our shared public lands,” said Brian O’Donnell, Executive Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation.

Support for permanently protecting America’s lands and waters as national parks and national monuments is at an all-time high. According to the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West poll released this week, 96 percent of Westerners emphasize the importance of protecting public lands for future generations.

For more than a century, 16 presidents—8 from each party—have used the Antiquities Act to protect important cultural, historic and natural sites found on our nation’s public lands. Nearly half of our national parks – including the Grand Canyon, Zion and Acadia – were originally protected using the Antiquities Act.

The Antiquities Act continues to be an important tool to honor our country’s diverse national mosaic and proud heritage. First used by Teddy Roosevelt, the Antiquities Act has stood the test of time and remains an essential conservation tool.  A clear example of this is yesterday’s announcement that the Obama Administration will honor 135 years of civil rights and industrial history by designating a national monument at the Pullman Historic District in Chicago.

In the past several years, an increasingly diverse coalition, including small businesses, sportsmen, veterans, African American and Latino communities, have called on congressional leaders to do more – not less – to protect our shared public lands. Murkowski’s bill would restrict public land protections by adding arbitrary rules and requiring additional unnecessary federal spending without additional benefits.

Under the Obama Administration, the Antiquities Act has been used to expand protections for the National Conservation Lands, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, five times, including the designations of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and the San Juan Islands National Monuments. These special places throughout the West preserve our nation’s pioneering spirit by preserving open space and wildlife habitat while also ensuring access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation.

“Alongside communities across the country, we will work hard to defend the Antiquities Act, and encourage President Obama to continue use it to safeguard our nation’s most important historic, cultural and natural areas,” said O’Donnell.

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