National Monuments and the Antiquities Act

Sponsored by: Sen. Tom Udall (NM) and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM)
S. 2354/ H.R. 6410 (Antiquities Act of 2018)

Short Summary

The Antiquities Act of 2018 protects and enhances national monuments.

General Description

National monuments are designated by presidents under a century-old law called the Antiquities Act. The law was enacted in 1906 to prevent looting of Indian artifacts from archaeological sites, but has been mostly used by presidents to turn public land into national monuments protected forever from commercial development or future mineral exploitation. [Tatiana Schlossberg, What is the Antiquities Act and Why Does President Trump Want to Change It?, New York Times, 04/26/17]

Bill Sponsor(s)

Sen. Tom Udall (NM)

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM)

Detailed Bill Summary 

  • Officially declares Congress’ support for the 51 national monuments established by presidents in both parties between January 1996 and April 2017 under their authority established by the Antiquities Act of 1906
  • Reinforces that existing law clearly states that presidential proclamations designating national monuments are valid and cannot be reduced or diminished, except by an act of Congress
  • Further enhances protections for the presidentially designated national monuments by 1) requiring that they be surveyed, mapped and that management plans be completed in two years – in the same manner as congressionally designated national monuments – and 2) that they receive additional resources to ensure that they will continue to meet their full potential of providing unmatched economic, recreational, and cultural benefits to their states and to the nation
  • Expands protection for the Bears Ears National Monument to over 1.9 million acres, directing that it be composed of the lands identified in the Bears Ears Tribal Coalition’s original proposal. In addition, it would designate over 249,000 acres of federal public lands in New Mexico as wilderness and add over 111,000 acres of wilderness in southern Nevada, building on the monument protections in these states [Summary of S. 2354, “The Antiquities Act of 2018,” Senator Tom Udall]

Current Status

  • 01/30/2018 – Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy & Natural Resources (Senate)
  • 07/25/2018 – Referred to the Subcommittee on Water, Power Oceans (House)
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