Executive order on the review of designations under the Antiquities Act

Federal Government -- April 26, 2017

The order instructs the Department of the Interior to review potential abuses of the 1906 Antiquities Act made since January 1, 1996, "where the designation covers more than 100,000 acres, where the designation after expansion covers more than 100,000 acres, or where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders".

The Antiquities Act was primarily intended to help protect Native American sites from looters, but broadly allows the president to declare "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest" to be national monuments. However, since its inception, some of the declarations have been seen as overreaching. In response, Congress has twice limited presidential ability to proclaim national monuments.

The period of time under review extends back to include President Clinton's designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. However, the primary purpose of the order is the review of President Obama's national monument declarations, and it specifically calls for a review of the establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. During his two terms, President Obama declared over 550 million acres of national monuments which represents 66% of all land and water ever designated through the Antiquities Act.

Executive Order - Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act
Oversight Hearing on the Consequences of Executive Branch Overreach of the Antiquities Act
Current United States Code for the Antiquities Act of 1906

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