Forests Forever

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Bill doubles down on protection for U.S. monuments! S.B. 2354 strengthens and clarifies safeguards against hostile presidents

pictured: Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

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In a strong response to the Trump administration's unprecedented attack on America's public lands a group of 18 Democratic senators recently introduced a bill to reinforce the landmark Antiquities Act of 1906.

S.B. 2354— the Antiquities Act of 2018— sends a powerful message that our public lands belong to all Americans. Only Congress has the authority to modify national monument designations.

Thank senators Feinstein and Harris for co-sponsoring this important legislation and urge them fight to pass S.B. 2354 today.

On Apr. 29, 2017, Donald Trump issued an executive order targeting more than two dozen monuments — including seven in California, which Forests Forever campaigned to defend.

Then last August Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, ignored the overwhelming expression of the American people to preserve our public lands heritage. Even though over 99 percent of the more than 2.8 million comments received during the public comment period were in support of protecting our national monuments the administration took action to rescind more than 2 million acres of these protections.

If successful this would represent the largest rollback of federally protected lands in U.S. history.

Our national monuments are part of who we are as a nation. They uphold our historical and cultural heritage, preserve biodiversity and assist in combatting climate change, as well as providing unmatched economic and recreational value in their regions and beyond.

We must not allow one reactionary presidential administration to slash protections and strip these treasures from the American people.

The Antiquities Act of 2018 would protect and enhance national monuments in three main respects. The bill:

  • officially declares Congress' support for the 51 national monuments established by presidents of both parties between January 1996 and April 2017 under the Antiquities Act of 1906.
  • reinforces and clarifies that presidential proclamations designating national monuments are valid and the monuments cannot be reduced or diminished except by an act of Congress.
  • enhances protections for national monuments by 1) requiring that they be surveyed and mapped and that management plans be completed in two years, in the same manner as congressionally designated national monuments, and 2) ensuring that they receive additional resources so they continue to meet their full potential of providing unmatched economic, recreational, and cultural benefits to their states and to the nation.

Since it became law 111 years ago, the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents to designate 157 much-beloved national monuments.

No president has the authority to undo Antiquities Act protections set in place by his or her predecessors. We must reinstate Congress' authority and keep public lands in public hands!

Our public lands belong to all of us. We will not sit idly by and allow these immensely popular and valuable natural areas to be subject to despoliation by timber, mining, motorized recreation, and ranching/grazing industries.

S.B 2354 will provide an added layer of insurance to the protected status of all monuments so they may remain open and unspoiled for generations to come.

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For the forests,

Paul Hughes
Executive Director
Forests Forever

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Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
by
John J. Berger

NOW AVAILABLE
from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places