Nation’s Significant Cultural Landscapes Undermined by Troubling Executive Action
Statement by National Trust for Historic Preservation President and CEO
The following is a statement from National Trust for Historic Preservation president and CEO Stephanie Meeks in response to the Trump Administration’s executive order directing the Interior Department to review national monument designations made under the Antiquities Act since January 1, 1996.
“This executive order is a troubling action that could undermine protections for many of our nation’s most significant cultural landscapes. Since its first use by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, Democratic and Republican presidents alike have used the Antiquities Act more than 150 times to designate iconic American places from the Statue of Liberty to Devils Tower to the Grand Canyon.
“These national monument designations often have occurred after years of consultation and engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders, including Native American tribes, state and federal elected officials, conservation and preservation organizations, and the public. At Utah’s Bears Ears, for example, the National Trust was part of a broad and inclusive multi-year process to find a bipartisan legislative solution that would protect the tens of thousands of cultural and archaeological resources found there.
“Like Bears Ears, the cultural landscapes and other places enshrined through the Antiquities Act help to tell the full story of this nation. They generate significant economic returns for local economies. And millions of Americans who visit our national monuments each year gain an appreciation and an understanding of our history that cannot be adequately conveyed in a book or a classroom. Perhaps that helps explain the enduring popularity of national monuments among the public—a 2017 Colorado College poll found that 80 percent of Western voters support existing monument designations.
“As this review moves forward, we will engage with the Administration and advocate for the importance of our national monuments and the many ways these important places benefit current and future generations of Americans.”