TU responds to attack on Antiquities Act

Trout Unlimited sent the following letter to the House Natural Resources Committee in response to the markup of the National Monument Creation and Protection Act, H.R. 3990, a bill which would endanger the future of the Antiquities Act:

October 11, 2017

The Honorable Rob Bishop, Chair

House Committee on Natural Resources

United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Raúl M. Grijalva, Ranking Member

House Committee on Natural Resources

United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Re: Please Oppose H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act

Dear Chairman Bishop, Ranking Member Grijalva, and members of the Committee:

On behalf of behalf of Trout Unlimited and its nearly 300,000 members and supporters nationwide, I am writing to urge you to oppose H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act.

Since being signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, 16 U.S. presidents – eight Democrats and eight Republicans – have used the Antiquities Act to protect special public lands important for hunting and fishing, such as Colorado’s Browns Canyon National Monument, California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument and New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

In these locations, locally-driven legislative proposals to conserve these areas languished in Congress for years – sometimes decades – despite overwhelming support from sportsmen and women, local governments, and affected stakeholders. Faced with Congressional inaction, the Antiquities Act provided a path forward to conserve important fish and wildlife habitat and quality opportunities for hunting and fishing. However, under H.R. 3990’s requirements, these places and many other National Monuments would not have been eligible for protection under the Antiquities Act.

H.R. 3990 is an unnecessary overreach that fundamentally undermines the Antiquities Act by attempting to change the very purpose and applicability of the law. The Antiquities Act is a powerful tool for the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat, and while this tool needs to be used in the right way and in the right place, H.R. 3990 does away with the tool altogether. It does this by narrowing the scope of eligible lands to only those possessing relics, artifacts, skeletal remains, fossils and certain buildings, eliminating the ability to use the Act to conserve fish and wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and traditional uses such as hunting and fishing. Moreover, the bill would establish arbitrary limitations on the size of National Monuments and change the law to give presidents new authority to reduce the size of existing National Monuments.

To be clear, National Monuments do not “lock up” lands. Rather, they are a flexible type of land designation that allows multiple uses in ways that are compatible with values in need of conservation. There are numerous examples where grazing, OHV use, outfitting, forest management and many other activities are allowed in National Monuments. Moreover, existing rights for energy development and mining are honored and many modern monument proclamations specify that the authority to manage fish and wildlife populations will remain with state agencies.

The management of each National Monument is guided by a management plan developed in collaboration with state and local governments and with public input. The designation of a monument is just the first step in determining how it will be managed. The last step is the management plan and this is where stakeholders can come together and ensure that future management balances multiple uses.

We urge you to oppose H.R. 3990 and focus your efforts on developing lasting, collaborative solutions to address public land management challenges.


Steve Moyer
Vice President for Government Affairs
Trout Unlimited

Corey Fisher
Public Lands Policy Director
Trout Unlimited

By Shauna Stephenson. Shauna Stephenson has been a writer, photographer, communicator and conservationist for nearly two decades, the past decade being spent at Trout Unlimited, working on projects…