Everything you need to know about the Antiquities Act

Sep 1, 2022

Over the last week, America’s national monuments and the Antiquities Act have been in the news thanks to elected officials in Colorado asking President Biden to invoke the Antiquities Act and other executive powers to protect lands that are part of the CORE Act, which is stalled in Congress despite near-universal support in the state. At the same time, Utah’s attorney general filed a lawsuit challenging President Biden’s use of the Antiquities Act to confirm the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, which President Trump had attempted to shrink in an action that was also challenged and not resolved before he left office.

The Center for Western Priorities put together a helpful primer on what the Antiquities Act is, why and when it was passed, how it’s held up to legal challenges in the past, and how President Joe Biden can use it to protect important landscapes like Avi Kwa AmeCastner RangeCaja del Rio, as well as areas identified for protection in the CORE Act.

Click here to learn more about the Antiquities Act.

Time to protect Caja Del Rio

From Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico boasts spectacular natural beauty and stunning archeological sites. Past presidents have used the Antiquities Act to protect many of these places, while Congress has acted to protect others. Yet an important New Mexican landscape remains unprotected. It’s called Caja del Rio (Spanish for “Box of the River”), and it spans over 106,000 acres and contains thousands of ancient petroglyphs.

Diverse communities of New Mexicans are seeking protection for Caja del Rio, which is threatened by mining, poaching, vandalism, desecration, illegal dumping, and habitat fragmentation. It’s time to implement both legislative and administrative protections—whether by designating Caja del Rio as a national conservation area, traditional cultural property, or a national monument.

September is National Wilderness Month!

Today is the first day of National Wilderness Month. Get out and enjoy your public lands this Labor Day weekend—bonus points for recreating (responsibly!) in wilderness areas. We’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday.

Quick hits

Report: Nearly $1 billion worth of methane lost on public land

E&E News | Taxpayers for Common Sense

Art therapy helps Colorado wildfire victims process their experiences

Yale Climate Connections

How climate change is transforming the Pacific Crest Trail

New York Times

Bipartisan wildlife conservation legislation lacks any mention of climate change

High Country News

A centuries-old cactus survived everything. Then summer rains came.

Washington Post

Proposed sand mine near Dinosaur shelved by red tape and sage grouse

Salt Lake Tribune

Death Valley braces for 124-degree temperatures as heat wave broils California

Los Angeles Times

Utah’s Fremont Indian State Park breathes life into ancient tribal way of life


Quote of the day

”Fire is a hazard that leaves other hazards in its wake: meager shade, disruptions to streams and water sources, ‘blow down’ trees you have to clamber over or walk around, and fine black soot that lingers in the back of hikers’ throats and aggravates open blisters. Fire scars—the blackened expanses a wildfire leaves behind—can take days to walk through.”

New York Times reporter Rowan Moore Gerety, on changes to the Pacific Crest Trail

Picture this

baby turtle on sand

Breaking turtle news!

For the first time in 75 years, sea turtle hatchlings were found at Louisiana’s Chandeleur Islands! A Kemp’s ridley hatchling, the most endangered sea turtle in the world, was spotted on the islands and within Breton National Wildlife Refuge.

(featured image: Browns Canyon National Monument | Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management)