Dems Urge Protection of the Antiquities Act in FY2017 Budget
Washington, D.C. – House Democrats sent a joint letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies today to urge the subcommittee to refrain from including any provisions that would undermine the Antiquities Act, a law that authorizes the president to designate national monuments on existing federal land, in the Fiscal Year 2017 bill. Republicans have repeatedly tried to undermine the Antiquities Act and worked to block designation of new national monuments.
The letter, signed by 80 Democrats – was led by House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Federal Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) – talks about the value of the Antiquities Act and the broad support for the Act. It reads in part:
“These attacks on one of our nation’s most critical conservation tools – without which our most popular national parks may not be what they are today – are entirely out of step with the public and continue to generate enormous controversy and bipartisan opposition.
“Hundreds of organizations across the country representing millions of Americans from a broad array of interests including sportsmen, cultural heritage, historic preservation, evangelicals, outdoor recreation, business, chambers of commerce, local officials, Native American governments, and many others have vocally opposed past efforts to block new national monuments.”
Despite the importance of the Antiquities Act and its broad public support, it has come under frequent attacks in the current Congress. To date, more than 20 bills and amendments have been introduced to undermine the Act and effectively block the designation of new national monuments.
“As we embark on the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, we now more than ever need the Antiquities Act to ensure lasting protection of our nation’s shared heritage,” Grijalva said. “Our public lands, including the National Parks System, remain one of the best ideas America ever had, but we have to continue to work to diversify our parks to make sure all Americans feel like a piece of their history and culture is represented in our monuments. The Antiquities Act is one tool that helps us move towards a more inclusive representation.”
“Our nation has made a commitment that our most significant historical, cultural, and natural sites should be preserved in perpetuity for future generations of Americans,” Tsongas said. “I have seen firsthand the role that preservation can play in protecting our natural treasures and our history, spurring sustainable growth and maintaining our quality of life. We have a responsibility to safeguard the places and traditions that make us who we are, and the Antiquities Act is a critical tool in that endeavor. ”
“National Monuments are iconic American landscapes that represent the ideals of the lands we fought to defend,” said Garett Reppenhagen, US Army veteran, Rocky Mountain Director of Vet Voice Foundation. “They protect the outdoor areas veterans recreate and heal in as well as historical sites like battlefields where future generations can learn of the sacrifices and legacy this country was built upon.”
“The Antiquities Act is one of the most important tools available to the Federal Government to protect areas of historical and cultural significance to tribes, and both the current and past Administrations have used this law to protect tribal sacred places,” said John Echohawk, Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund. “The Native American Rights Fund opposes any effort to weaken or overturn the Antiquities Act, and appreciates the work of the 80 Members of Congress who work every day to defend this fundamental Act that helps protect Native American sacred sites.”
The full letter is available at, http://1.usa.gov/1TKrqCi.
Media Contact: Diane Padilla
(202) 225-6065 or (202) 226-3522
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