Press Release: Congressman Bishop Launches Major Assault on National Monuments
Falsely claims Trump can unilaterally undesignate Monuments
WASHINGTON, DC (November 18, 2016) –Conservation Lands Foundation strongly objects to claims by Utah Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) that future presidents could undesignate national monuments designated via the Antiquities Act.
“For 110 years, the American public has celebrated and the courts have universally upheld previous national monument designations,” commented Brian O’Donnell, Executive Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation. “Rep. Bishop’s baseless assertion that President-elect Trump could unilaterally eviscerate previous national monument designations, demonstrate his callous disregard for our nation’s heritage.”
Rep. Bishop is on the record suggesting that supporters of the Antiquities Act should “die,” has dismissed Native American artifacts as unworthy of preservation, and has refused to even acknowledge Utah’s Tribal Leaders’ calls for a national monument for their own ancestral lands.
The Antiquities Act, a law passed by a Republican Congress and first used by a Republican president, 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 such as the Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty and Canyons of the Ancients. Half of America’s National Parks were originally protected using the Antiquities Act, including Arches, Zion and Bryce National Parks in Utah.
National Monuments and public lands are an essential part of our national economy. Outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing contribute $646 billion into the U.S. economy. Recent designations have had the support of small businesses, chambers of commerce, and outdoor recreation and tourism industry leaders.
The Antiquities Act has also been a critical tool in allowing Presidents to honor the diversity of our country by designating national monuments that reflect America’s diversity and traditionally underrepresented communities. A 2015 analysis showed that using the Antiquities Act, presidents have a stronger record than Congress in ensuring that national parks and monuments recognize the contributions to history of women, communities of color, LGBT and other traditionally underrepresented communities.
First used by Teddy Roosevelt, the Antiquities Act has stood the test of time and remains an essential conservation tool. In the past decade, an increasingly diverse coalition, including sportsmen, veterans, faith leaders, and African American, Latino and Native American communities, have called on the president and congressional leaders to do more – not less – to protect our shared public lands.
“Rep. Bishop’s comments are out of step with the vast majority of Americans who support the protection of our natural and historic sites and want a balanced approach to our shared public lands,” said Ryan Bidwell, Senior Director of Conservation with the Conservation Lands Foundation. “Rep. Bishop may desire to sell our public lands to the highest bidder, but thankfully his radical and unsupported assertion that the President can simply abolish our nation’s national monuments lacks both rational justification and legal precedent.”