New Report by Former National Park Service Leaders Highlights the Lasting Impact of National Monuments and Sites in Need of Protection
An Updated Report by Former National Park Service Leaders is Released on the 117th Anniversary of the Antiquities Act, a Critical Tool to Protect and Conserve America’s Public Lands
WASHINGTON, DC — In an update to a previous report documenting the lasting impact of national monuments, the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks highlights several new “national treasures in need of protection.” This report, released today, advocates for the swift use of the Antiquities Act by President Biden to protect these historic and irreplaceable spaces.
The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks is a nonprofit advocacy group composed of retired, former, and current employees and volunteers of the National Park Service. The group released the report today, June 8th, in commemoration of the 117th anniversary of the Antiquities Act
In Support of the Antiquities Act: A Continued Look at the Lasting Impact of National Monuments, recommends that President Biden use the powers given to him under the Antiquities Act to safeguard the following “national treasures in need of protection:”
- 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site in Illinois: This site is already part of the African American Civil Rights Network, and a monument designation would help to ensure that the historic and nationally significant events that led to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) are always remembered.
- Black Wall Street National Monument in Oklahoma: In May 1921, the historic Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was home to a thriving Black community. It was burned to the ground by a white mob that killed hundreds, destroyed businesses and residences, and left thousands of people homeless. The designation of this national monument would ensure that the accomplishments of the Black community, the terrible violence inflicted upon them, and their successful efforts to rebuild will not be forgotten.
- Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument in Arizona: This designation would protect over one million acres of land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. These federal public lands near and adjoining the park protect thousands of archaeological artifacts, provide a home to incredible biological diversity and numerous threatened, endangered, and rare species, and offer outdoor reaction opportunities. A national monument designation would ensure the protection of these lands from threats such as new uranium mining, damage to cultural sites, and disruption of sensitive ecological systems by unmanaged use and development.
- Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in California: This expansion would safeguard public lands that are sacred to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and that are critically important to protect in the face of a changing climate. The proposed expansion area – Molok Luyuk – consists of public lands on the eastern edge of the existing monument.
Last year’s report listed Castner Range in Texas, and Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada as critical national treasures in need of protection. President Biden has since taken action using his powers under the Antiquities Act to designate both places as national monuments.
Other potential national monuments mentioned in last year’s report included Range of Light in California and Douglas-Fir in Oregon.
“In 2021, President Biden set our first-ever national conservation goal – to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 (30 x 30 initiative)– as part of the administration’s America the Beautiful Initiative,” said Mike Murray, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. “In the past few years, the president has delivered on his promise to restore the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument. We celebrated the designation of the Castner Range, Avi Kwa Ame, and Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monuments. But there is more work to be done and we urge President Biden to take action and protect other critical landscapes in need of protection. Now is the time for action.”
The report, In Support of the Antiquities Act: A Continued Look at the Lasting Impact of National Monuments, also documents the historic use of the Antiquities Act to lay the groundwork for long-term protections at cherished sites such as Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Acadia National Park in Maine, Great Basin National Park in Nevada, Carlsbad Cavern National Park in New Mexico, and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado.
Each of these national parks was initially protected using the Antiquities Act, a tool which allows the President of the United States to proclaim national monuments on federal lands that contain historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest.