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Trump’s Executive Order Requires Hard Look at National Monument Designations

Former Proposals Specialist
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By Maribeth M. Klein

By executive order, President Trump directed the Department of Interior to review national monuments designated since 1996 under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Antiquities Act grants the President authority to designate “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” on federal lands as national monuments. There are currently more than 125 national monuments, the vast majority of which are managed by the Department of the Interior.

The Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act recognizes that monument designations have a substantial impact on the management of Federal lands, the use and enjoyment of neighboring lands, and the economic growth of surrounding communities. In particular, the Executive Order recognizes “[m]onument designations that result from a lack of public outreach and proper coordination with State, tribal, and local officials and other relevant stakeholders may also create barriers to achieving energy independence, restrict public access to and use of Federal lands, burden State, tribal, and local governments, and otherwise curtail economic growth.”

The Executive Order directs Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, to review all Presidential designations or expansions of designations under the Antiquities Act made since January 1, 1996, where:

  • the designation, or total designation after expansion, exceeds 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 purpose of Secretary Zinke’s review is to determine whether the designation or expansion strikes the appropriate balance between protecting national landmarks, the appropriate use of Federal lands, and the effects on surrounding lands and local communities.

The Executive Order directs Secretary Zinke to consult with State, tribal and local governments affected by the monument designations during the review. An interim report by the Secretary to the President specifically addressing Bear Ears National Monument in Utah and any other national monument the Secretary deems appropriate for inclusion is due within 45 days of the date of the Executive Order. A final report must be submitted within 120 days of the date of the Executive Order.

Approximately 25 currently designated monuments are potentially impacted based on acreage alone. The vast majority are in the western continental United States. National monuments potentially impacted in California, Arizona and Utah include:

California Acres
Mojave Trails National Monument 1,600,000
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument 346,177
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument 330,780
Giant Sequoia National Monument 327,769
Carrizo Plain National Monument 204,107
Sand to Snow National Monument 154,000
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument 1,014,000
Sonoran Desert National Monument 486,149
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument 279,568
Ironwood Forest National Monument 128,917
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument 1,700,000
Bear Ears National Monument 1,353,000

States, localities, and other persons affected by the national monument designations should begin considering the impacts of the designations and consider contacting the Department of Interior regarding those impacts.