Barbara Brower

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography



Physical Description

1 online resource. Digitized computer-produced typeface


United States. Antiquities act of 1906, Public lands -- United States, Executive power -- United States, National monuments -- United States




President Clinton created Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on September 17, 1996. The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the president power to establish national monuments on public lands through presidential proclamation. The Act has been used to create national monuments in places such as Muir Woods, Grand Canyon, Mount Olympus, Jackson Hole, and the 1978 Alaskan d-2 lands. Its use has also produced negative public response, manifested as demonstrations, lawsuits, and congressional bills.

In spite of significant legal and legislative challenges, the Antiquities Act and most of the monuments established through its use remain. The negative public response to the Act and the monuments has not been able to dissuade presidents from using executive authority. In each of the controversial cases the scope of the Antiquities Act was expanded in regards to the values being protected, monument size, or land use. The public had little influence in reversing that expansion.

The Antiquities Act was designed as a tool to provide protection to threatened lands. It has protected federal lands, and in many cases the national interest. The historic and scientific values of once controversial monuments such as the Grand Canyon, Muir Woods Mount Olympus, Jackson Hole, and the d-2 lands, are now indisputable. These monuments have evolved to represent part of our natural national heritage. Only time will tell if the same can be said for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.


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