DURING NATIONAL PARK WEEK, WE CAN BE GRATEFUL FOR THE PASSAGE OF THE ANTIQUITIES ACT OF 1906
"The President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments."
When Congress passed the Antiquities Act, it authorized any U.S. President to unilaterally declare the creation of a National Monument - without Congressional approval - with the stroke of a pen. Many National Monuments created in this manner were later converted into National Parks, a redesignation which requires Congressional approval.
Some of the more famous National Monuments created by the Antiquities Act are: Devil's Tower, Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon, Olympic, Bryce Canyon, Great Sand Dunes, Muir Woods, Capitol Reef, Grant Teton and Zion. Some of these later became National Parks.
I am very grateful for this piece of legislation, and I'm aware that we shouldn't take it for granted. Can you imagine a Congress like the one currently in Washington approving a new National Monument? In fact, in 2014, conservatives in Congress sought to dismantle the Antiquities Act.
Fortunately, they have been unable to do so, thus far . . .
Photos: Arches (UT), Grand Teton(WY) and Olympic (WA) National Parks, all of which were originally set aside as National Monuments, using the Antiquities Act. For a complete list of all National Monuments created under the Antiquities Act, go to:
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.