National fishing and hunting groups today expressed concern about an administration decision to review recent use of the Antiquities Act to conserve public lands and waters, warning that efforts to reduce in size or otherwise diminish U.S. national monuments could harm fish and wildlife, reduce hunting and angling opportunities and negatively impact cherished American landscapes. The Trump administration’s executive order directs the Interior Department to study dozens of national monuments covering tens of millions of acres that have been designated since 1996 and gauge whether their size, boundaries and scope conform to parameters established in the Antiquities Act.
Signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents – eight Republicans and eight Democrats – to safeguard millions of acres of exceptional public lands and waters, including outstanding fish and wildlife habitat that provides some of the best hunting and fishing in the nation.
The sportsmen emphasized that responsible use of the Antiquities Act can permanently conserve important cultural sites and scientific resources as well as outdoor opportunities prized by sportsmen and women and other recreationists. These places and the opportunities they offer play a key role in sustaining America’s robust recreation economy and our outdoor heritage.
“The process outlined in this executive order starts us down a path that could jeopardize protected public lands important for hunters and anglers, such as Berryessa Snow Mountain and Rio Grande del Norte National Monument,” said Corey Fisher, senior policy director for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “These are places that sportsmen and women have worked tirelessly to protect. Hunters and anglers will watch this review carefully and strongly oppose any efforts to roll back national monuments.”
“This attack on monuments is an affront to all Americans who know darn well there were, and are, very good reasons to protect these special landscapes so they’ll continue to provide habitat, beauty and economic benefits for the surrounding communities well into the future. The landscapes are the gift that keeps on giving – for sportsmen, hikers, outdoorswomen, wildlife watchers, bikers and other recreationists,” said Aaron Kindle, the National Wildlife Federation’s Western sportsmen’s campaign manager. “As long as we honor the will of the American people and do right by the fish and wildlife that make their homes in these areas, we will continue to reap the rewards. Anything less would be biting the hand that feeds us.”
“The actions taken today by the administration are a thinly veiled attack on fish and wildlife cloaked under the guise of a review of the Antiquities Act,” said Ben Bulis, president of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. “The Antiquities Act has been used by Republican and Democratic presidents to protect some of our nation’s most cherished landscapes. Our concern is a review will only lead to reduced protections of these national treasures.”
“There’s more to this decision than meets the eye,” said Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Conservation Director John Gale. “Neither sportsmen nor other public lands users would stand in the way of an objective attempt to ensure the integrity of recent monument designations. Yet the administration’s announcement could create unintended consequences that jeopardize important fish and wildlife habitat on public lands and invite unproductive dialogues that distract us from enhancing management of our public lands and waters.”
The sportsmen recently contacted the administration to voice support for the Antiquities Act and oppose any executive action that seeks administratively to overturn a national monument.