After 117 years, Antiquities Act continues to shape our conservation story

Jun 8, 2023

Today marks the 117th anniversary of one of America’s bedrock conservation laws, the Antiquities Act. Since it became law in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used by 18 presidents of both parties to designate 161 national monuments, many of which went on to become national parks including Arches, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Zion National Parks. Vocal but limited legal opposition to the Antiquities Act has yet to succeed, and Americans continue to overwhelmingly support presidents’ use of the Antiquities Act to protect historic and cultural sites and landscapes.

So far, President Joe Biden has used the Antiquities Act to designate three new national monuments: Camp Hale-Continental Divide in Colorado, Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada, and Castner Range in Texas. Many more unique and vulnerable Western landscapes are ready for permanent protection under the Antiquities Act. President Biden has the opportunity to leave an enduring legacy of conservation and ensure a vibrant and diverse natural heritage for future generations of Americans. Learn more about the Antiquities Act and more of these deserving landscapes in a new blog post from Center for Western Priorities Policy and Design Associate Lilly Bock-Brownstein.

Speaking of leaving an enduring legacy of conservation, in the latest episode of the Center for Western Priorities’ podcast, The Landscape, Kate and Aaron are joined by filmmaker John De Graaf to talk about his new documentary, Stewart Udall and the Politics of Beauty. De Graaf has been producing and directing PBS documentaries for 45 years, 32 of which he spent at KCTS, the Seattle PBS affiliate. His new film recounts former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall’s life and illustrates the impact he had on conservation in the West.

BLM Restoration Landscapes: Upper Salmon River

In celebration of the Bureau of Land Management’s $161 million investment in Western landscape restoration projects, Look West is highlighting a different Restoration Landscape each day for 21 days. Today’s landscape is the Upper Salmon River in Idaho. A restoration investment of just over $9 million will fund aquatic connectivity projects including culvert replacements. Learn more about culvert replacement in the Center for Western Priorities’ Westwise blog post on why culverts for fish passage are an important element of wildlife and habitat connectivity.

Quick hits

Senators introduce bill to protect watersheds, roadless areas

CPR News | E&E News

Montana groups sue governor over conservation funding veto dispute


The Northeast gets a taste of fire season, and the effects of climate change

Washington Post | The Atlantic | Associated Press | Yale Climate Connections | New York Times [opinion]

Colorado has enough inaccessible public land to cover the entire Denver metro area; other states are even worse


Opinion: BLM rule elevating conservation benefits us all

Salt Lake Tribune

Political appointees set state wildlife policy. Critics say that’s a problem


Two California lakes are making comebacks with different results

NBC News

Watergate: Did someone monkey wrench Jackson Lake dam?

Jackson Hole News & Guide

Quote of the day

”Until now, if people in the green and leafy Northeast looked at arid Western cities covered in smoke from wildfires, they could say, that can’t happen here, thank god. On Tuesday, it did…Americans elsewhere in the country who have experienced that threat mainly by scrolling in horror through amber Instagrams and dashcam footage of drives through walls of flame are beginning to realize how much farther the threat can travel.”

—David Wallace-Wells, New York Times

Picture this

“Wildflowers don’t care where they grow.” –Dolly Parton

Dolly’s lyric from her song “Wildflowers” certainly applies to the desert willow.

Desert willows are more closely related to catalpa trees than willows, and they are one of the hardiest plants of the Southwest. Desert willows are “phreatophytes”—they grow deep root systems that stay in touch with the groundwater beneath them. They survive in a wide range of temperatures and elevations, and they may appear as a small shrub or a tree up to 26 feet (8 meters) tall.

(featured image: Indian Creek in Bears Ears National Monument, Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management)