Center for American Progress

RELEASE: How the Biden Administration Can Use the Antiquities Act To Create More Representative National Monuments
Press Release

RELEASE: How the Biden Administration Can Use the Antiquities Act To Create More Representative National Monuments

Washington, D.C. — The Biden administration should use the Antiquities Act to designate more representative national monuments, according to a new article from the Center for American Progress and Monumental SHIFT that urges for more inclusive land protection.

Historically, the protection of national sites has come from the interests of white-led institutions, leading to just 24 percent of national park sites with a primary purpose of documenting historically underrepresented communities. In addition, communities of color often have significantly less access to public lands and nature due to a history of displacement, segregation, and exploitation.

To address these inequities, the article calls for President Joe Biden to designate more representative national monuments via the Antiquities Act. Calls for possible new monuments include Castner Range, which would benefit the surrounding Latino and low-income community in El Paso, Texas. This site, as well as many other community-led sites, deserves national protection to ensure equitable access to public lands and portray an accurate history of the United States.

“To honor community conservation efforts and begin to resolve inequities in the stories told by the country’s national parks and monuments, President Biden should utilize the Antiquities Act to meet and exceed President Barack Obama’s legacy in the designation of national monuments for historically underrepresented and excluded communities,” said Jenny Rowland-Shea, director for Public Lands at CAP and co-author of the article. “To continue to grow as a justice- and equity-oriented administration, more land designations are urgently needed.”

“Protected lands and waters preserve our shared cultural heritage, provide places to recreate and connect with nature, spend time with family and our communities, and significantly contribute to industries, local economies, and millions of jobs and employment opportunities,” said Maite Arce, President & CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Latinos have been an integral part of this shared history. However, our access to public lands, the equal representation of our cultural heritage, and our workforce contributions are not always acknowledged or represented, as this new analysis shows. This report shows the urgency of using the Antiquities Act and other designation tools to protect areas of importance to underrepresented communities. By failing to take these steps toward protection, we risk losing pieces of our past forever.”

“Meaningfully addressing the absence of tribal leadership, not just representation, in land preservation must be a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration and beyond,” said José González, member of Monumental SHIFT. “Historically and intentionally marginalized people and communities are often the most connected to the land, but are most impacted by the climate crisis, and lack of equitable access to the outdoors. Shifting historical inequities and protecting sacred lands are top priorities for Monumental SHIFT.”

Read the article: “National Monuments Are a Missing Piece in Biden’s Equitable Conservation Agenda” by Sam Zeno, Jenny Rowland-Shea, Cassandra Carmichael, José G. González, Bennae Calac, and Shanna Edberg

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at jcusick@americanprogress.org.