“Like you, we care deeply for our public lands and have genuine concerns about presidents meddling with millions of acres. We see more losers than winners when a president with a phone and a pen is making unilateral decisions, far removed from the land and people who call these places home.”

Op-ed by Matthew Anderson

The Deseret News

Reforming the Antiquities Act into a law for the people

Dear Environmental Groups and the Outdoor Retail Industry,

We feel your frustrations and we know it hurts. We know the hopeless feeling of trying to plead with a president to stay his hand. We understand what it is like to be ignored. We get it. Your op-eds, TV ads and social media campaigns speak volumes about your fears that President Donald Trump may reduce or entirely rescind national monuments across the country.

Like you, we care deeply for our public lands and have genuine concerns about presidents meddling with millions of acres. We see more losers than winners when a president with a phone and a pen is making unilateral decisions, far removed from the land and people who call these places home. Sadly, there are no alternative policy options right now, but we hope you will join us to change that.

No one questions the pure intentions of the Antiquities Act. It was the first federal action taken to establish cultural and historical sites as important public resources. The law obligates federal land managers to preserve our national treasures for present and future generations and protects archaeological sites from grave robbers, looters and acts of vandalism. This shows foresight that was decades ahead of its time and should be celebrated by all who love our public lands. Our angst over the Antiquities Act is driven by its process, not its intent to preserve and protect.

The Antiquities Act rejected the American system of checks and balances by vesting total power over public land designations in the hands of one individual. Instead of collaboration and compromise, presidents simply bypass those most impacted by land management decisions in favor of an agenda focused on ideological and self-centered goals. These decisions are done to us, rather than with us.

Now you share with us this same precarious position as the power used to designate national monuments may be repurposed to rescind them. There is a better way.

Let’s join forces to reform the Antiquities Act into a law by, of and for the people, where constitutional principles safeguard the environment, protect archaeological sites, create abundant recreational opportunities and secure the American Dream for rural communities. This American version of the Antiquities Act can be realized by requiring that designations, reductions or repeals of national monuments be approved by Congress and state elected officials. By integrating state leaders and Congress into the process, we will protect the will of the people from presidential overreach.

No more would either of us sit on pins and needles dreading how an incoming president will use unchecked power to create or alter monuments. No more would these fears, hopes and dreams fall upon deaf ears. No more would one person, far removed from our public lands, be making all the decisions. This seems like an outcome we can all agree on. Without this change, no one’s future is secure. Public lands, cultural resources and rural communities will constantly be threatened as each new administration upends the land management policies made by the last.

It is time to rise above ideological and partisan differences by engaging in a meaningful dialogue centered on our common bond to our public lands and the American ideals that should guide reform of an antiquated law. This isn’t about left or right; it’s about the people’s right to have a meaningful voice in creating principled and sensible land management policy. Let’s start a dialogue and stand together.

Deseret News/file photo

Free Range Report


  1. Bipartisanship, really you’ve got to be kidding. Next they’ll use words like compromise and we all know how Obama dealt with that.

    Here’s just one example of Obama’s EO land grab abuse;

    In just the last week of 2016, Obama arbitrarily took 1.35 million acres in Utah to create the Bears Ears National Monument. This action came despite all elected representatives from the area (from the governor and state legislators to the members of Congress from Utah) being opposed to the action.

  2. One should read the autobiography of the President who invented “FEDERAL PARKS” for the soul purpose BECAUSE he singly was running free range cattle and making money in the industry! Or, take a drive to Federal Park> MARCUM SPRINGS in Southeast MO. Thru the 1990’s it was beautifully maintained AFTER it was donated by a farming family to U.S. Fed Gov Park System with a promise it would all be maintained in perpetuity! THAT TREATY: LIKE SO MANY MADE BY U.S. FED GOV WITH MY NATIVE ANCESTOR’S; Was broken, when in the mid 1990’s “Black River” really a Creek; flooded a small section of the monument park! DID FED GOV do any restoration? NONE! When we returned to the place we’d camped as kids, my wife and I found a total wasted dump! NEVER DOES FED GOV METHODS WORK past a couple generations! It’s always better (As the FIRST U.S. CONSTITUTION READ;) For the SEPARATE FREE STATES, control and maintain the lands with-in their own Borders! I say: RETURN 100% of Federally Confiscated Lands back to & under the control of each of the 50 separate States! All the Constitution actually gave FED GOV power to do, was make Laws governing and regulating Trade between States, a Common Currency, Foreign Treaties, Defense CO-ORDINATION of the 50 free separate States’ Militias & a Navy! Even the TAXATION SYSTEM was not invented until just BEFORE WWII during the Socialist President Roosevelt! To truly have a solid CONSTITUTIONAL NATION; (which will never again happen; ALL AGENCIES of the Fed Gov would need to be either closed or turned over to the 50 States to be ran and managed within their individual State Borders. Most are unaware: But even in WWI the majority of the fighting men were sent by each State’s National Guard’s! We won that war being a non Fed Gov taxed nation of separate States.

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