Sending Office: Honorable Paul A. Gosar
Request for Signature(s)
Empowering States and Reining in Abuse of the Antiquities Act
Encourage President Trump to Listen to the People, not Special-Interest Groups, during Monument Review
Deadline COB Wednesday, November 8th
Current Signers (14): Mark Amodei, Brian Babin, Andy Biggs, Ken Buck, Paul Cook, Kevin Cramer, Jeff Duncan, Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, Walter Jones, Doug LaMalfa, Steve Pearce, Aumua Amata Radewagen, Randy Weber
Current Endorsements: American Farm Bureau, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Public Lands Council
Please join us in sending a letter to President Trump recommending the revision, and in some cases rescission, of national monuments unilaterally designated by Presidents after 1996 that are larger than 100,000 acres and that lacked public outreach and coordination
with relevant stakeholders.
President Trump ordered review of these designations by Secretary Zinke in
Executive Order (EO) 13792 issued on April 26, 2017. Based on the parameters of the EO, Secretary Zinke announced in the
Federal Register that his initial review would include 27 different land and marine monuments. Factors for the Secretary to evaluate specified in the executive order included: the requirements and objectives of the Antiquities Act, including that designations
be confined to “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected”; whether designated lands are “appropriately classified” as historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic
or scientific interest; the effect of monument designation on uses of federal and nonfederal lands inside and outside of the monument boundaries; concerns of affected state, tribal, and local governments; availability of federal resources to manage designated
areas; and other factors determined by the Secretary.
On June 30, 2017, 17 Members of Congress led by Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar and Congressman Andy Biggs sent a letter to Secretary Zinke with specific recommendations for the 27 monuments under review based on the input of local stakeholders and Antiquities
Presidents from both sides of the aisle have used the stroke of a pen to unilaterally lock up hundreds of millions of acres. President Obama abused the Antiquities Act more than any other president in history, designating or expanding 34 national monuments
and locking-up 553.6 million acres of total land and water. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), past presidents have used this outdated authority 233 times to unilaterally designate or expand 157 national monuments comprising
approximately 840.4 million acres.
On August 24, Secretary Zinke submitted his review recommendations to the President. The nonpartisan CRS reports, “The document was not publicly released. Instead, the Administration provided to the public a two-page summary of the report.12
A version of the Secretary’s full report, marked “Draft Deliberative—Not for Distribution,” subsequently became available to the public through the media In the final report to the President, the Interior Secretary made individual recommendations for 10 of
the 27 monuments that were reviewed. President Trump continues to review the Secretary’s proposal and other factors while determining what actions the Administration should take to rein in past abuse.
The Antiquities Act was intended to protect Indian ruins, artifacts and sacred sites on federal lands in the West and includes language to limit monument designations under this law to “the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the
objects.” Compared to the early application of the Antiquities Act, where the average size of a national monument was 422 acres, it became commonplace for President Obama’s designated monuments to exceed one million acres in size.
Misuse of this outdated 1906 Act has jeopardized the daily activities, livelihoods and traditions of local communities. In numerous instances, grazing rights, water rights, energy development, wildfire prevention and other land management activities have
been negatively impacted. These massive declarations have also resulted in restrictive land-use regulations that have limited hunting, fishing, OHV use and other recreational activities.
By going back to the drawing board and coordinating with state and local stakeholders, President Trump has an excellent opportunity to ensure communities are not harmed by the executive overreach of previous presidents and that these designations follow
the spirit and letter of the law.
This letter emphasizes the extent to which the signer’s consensus on monuments is that they must be statutorily compliant – i.e. in keeping with the “smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects” clause of the Antiquities Act,
and that they must be of demonstrated scientific or historic interest. As such, the parameters forming this consensus necessarily demand the shrinking or rescission of a majority of the monuments under review.
Andy Biggs Paul A. Gosar D.D.S.
Member of Congress Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0