1906 Antiquities Act Is Monument to Conservation

Article excerpt

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON's proclamation of a new national monument in Utah is the first use of this special presidential power in 18 years.

The Antiquities Act, passed by Congress in 1906, has not been used since 1978, when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed 17 national monuments covering 50 million acres in Alaska, an area equal to more than all other national monuments combined.

Since its passage, the act has been used 66 times. The only presidents not to use it were Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush. "Even Herbert Hoover was quite aggressive," at saving areas from development for cultural, geographic and scientific reasons, said Frank Buono, assistant superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park. He is an expert on the Antiquities Act. The act was prompted by turn-of-the-century grave-robbing of 1,000-year-old Anasazi artifacts by pot hunters in New Mexico's Chaco Canyon. The act has a storied history: The power was first used by President Teddy Roosevelt the same year the Antiquities Act was passed to protect Devil's Tower in Wyoming. …