Doug Brinkley: Effort to block national monuments may undermine future national parks





If legislation introduced in Congress last week were law a century ago, mines would have sprouted in the Grand Canyon, and the Olympic elk would have been shot for meat to the last animal.

President Theodore Roosevelt used the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate a Grand Canyon National Monument, as well as an Olympic National Monument to protect a species of elk that now bears his name.

"Monuments Could Be Blocked in Senate Bill," said a recent release from Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho....

Lands that began as national monuments -- e.g. Grand Canyon, Olympic, Death Valley -- are now numbered among our greatest national parks. Up north, Katmai and Glacier Bay were national monuments until the 1980 Alaska Lands Act expanded both and made these wonderlands national parks....

"National monuments are usually way stations to national parks, places so popular that they became national parks: They are national treasures and huge economic engines," said Douglas Brinkley, author of a bestseller on Theodore Roosevelt and a new book, "The Quiet World," on efforts to control land exploitation in Alaska and stave off species extinction.

"In an America filled with lobby groups and selfish agendas, you can't just save a place for one presidency," Brinkley added....

"Sponsors of efforts to curb Presidential authority under the Antiquties Act are some of the same people in Congress who promote executive power in other realms," Brinkley notes....


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