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Preserving the Antiquities Act

America’s treasures need protections

Mar. 2, 2011
The Arizona Republic

Arizona got a big parting gift in the final years of the Clinton administration: five national monuments.

With the president’s signature, Ironwood Forest, Sonoran Desert, Agua Fria, Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Canyon-Parashant were set aside for us to enjoy in their natural splendor. Their rich habitat, stunning scenery and archaeology are protected for future generations.

The 1906 Antiquities Act gives presidents the authority to designate national monuments. It’s a power that has served Arizona well. Theodore Roosevelt used it in 1908 to preserve 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon . We have had 25 national monuments designated under the act – more than any other state. They’ve largely encompassed federal land, providing a higher level of protection; some later became national parks.

They range from Montezuma Castle (T.R. again) to Canyon de Chelly (Herbert Hoover) to Casa Grand Ruins (Calvin Coolidge).

Fifteen presidents – Democrats and Republicans, including George W. Bush – have protected natural, historic and prehistoric landmarks with monument status.

But three bills in Congress would undercut this authority, whether by requiring a congressional OK or by mandating approval from state legislatures and governors.

This is a guarantee for delay, politics and pressure from special interests. The Antiquities Act has been a valuable tool for more than a century. America should keep it.

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