A group of more than 300 former National Park Service employees today urged President Joe Biden to use his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to create six new national monuments in Texas, Nevada, California, Oregon and Illinois.
“There are thousands of acres of public land that are at risk and in need of additional protections,” the group, members of the nonprofit Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, said in a letter to the president; Interior Secretary Deb Haaland; and Brenda Mallory, the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.
The sites recommended for protection are Castner Range in Texas, Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada, Range of Light in California, Douglas-Fir in Oregon and two in Illinois: Cahokia Mounds and a site of the 1908 race riot in Springfield.
In a report accompanying the letter, the group said the Antiquities Act “is a powerful and bipartisan tool” that authorizes a president “to proclaim national monuments on federal lands that contain historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest.”
“It allows a president to take prompt action to protect resources that may be vulnerable,” said the report. “And designating a resource as a national monument not only preserves an irreplaceable landscape or structure, it also can provide recreational and economic benefits.”
The 300-plus members of the coalition who signed the letter said they represented more than 2,100 members who belong to the organization.
“As a group, we collectively represent over 40,000 years of experience managing and protecting America’s most precious and important natural and cultural resources,” the group said in its letter.
The group noted that Biden had delivered on a campaign promise last year by restoring the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument (Greenwire, Oct. 7).
“Now, through the use of the Antiquities Act, you can continue to build an inclusive and resilient conservation legacy that reflects the diversity of our natural heritage and permanently protects our lands and waters,” the group said in its letter, adding that it would help Biden achieve his goal of conserving 30 percent of all U.S. lands and water by 2030.