Devils Postpile National Monument

What is the Antiquities Act?

The Antiquities Act of 1906 allows the President to designate federal lands (or waters) containing objects of historic, scenic, or scientific significance as national monuments, to prevent them from potential harm and provide permanent protection.

AKA: The Antiquities Act lets presidents make monuments!

Did you know?

  • The Antiquities Act was originally enacted to address issues with looting of cultural artifacts, particularly in the Southwest.
  • President Theodore Roosevelt was the first to designate national monuments – he created 18!
  • Only three presidents haven’t used the Antiquities Act to create new national monuments.
  • President Barack Obama protected over 500 million acres of public lands and waters using the Antiquities Act, the most protected via monument designation by any president.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument by Backroad Packers on Unsplash

How does the Antiquities Act work?

  1. A landscape is identified by the local, Native or national community as a place that merits permanent protection for its natural, historical, or scientific resources.

2. Under the powers granted by the Antiquities Act, the President issues a unique proclamation designating that area as a National Monument.

3. The proclamation describes the specific resources and values embodied in the newly created Monument.

4. A management plan is created to assure that use of the area will match the stated values of the proclamation which created the new Monument.

Why does the Antiquities Act matter?

By empowering the president to create national monuments without Congress, the Antiquities Act provides one of our most valuable tools for protecting public lands when lands are threatened and Congress fails to act. In the United States, we lose a football field worth of natural area every 30 seconds to human development, affecting fresh water, clean air, and wildlife. Special places across the country are in urgent need of protection.


Created in collaboration with Outdoor Advocacy Project and Public Land Solutions.

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