Press Release – Senator Lee’s “No New Parks” Bill Defeated in Bipartisan Vote
Statement from Conservation Lands Foundation on Senator Lee’s
Failed Effort to Gut the Antiquities Act
WASHINGTON, DC (February 2, 2016) – Today, Senator Mike Lee’s (R-UT) amendment to the energy bill which would have arbitrarily dismantled the law that first protected nearly half of our national parks – the Antiquities Act – was resoundingly defeated. The amendment failed 47 to 48 – which was 13 votes short of passing – and was opposed by 4 Republican and 44 Democratic Senators.
“As our nation celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service, some members of Congress are working to dismantle our nation’s most important land conservation tool,” said Brian O’Donnell, Executive Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation. “Efforts to block new national parks and monuments are out of step with the vast majority of Americans who support the protection of our natural and historic sites and place a priority on conserving our shared public lands.”
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.
Senator Lee’s amendment to gut the Antiquities Act would have obstructed communities’ efforts to safeguard important historic, cultural, and natural sites. Senator Lee’s amendments were introduced on the heel of the release of the Colorado College poll showing that 80 percent of Westerners are in favor of future presidents protecting public lands with a national monument designation.
The amendment was opposed by several Native American Tribal Governments, the National Congress of American Indians, sportsmen’s groups and more than 100 organizations representing millions of members across the country.
“Despite these continued attacks, it is encouraging to see a bipartisan group of Senators standing with communities from across the nation in support of our national parks and monuments,” said O’Donnell.