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The Antiquities Act of 1906 provides, in part, that “The President may, in the President's discretion, declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated on land owned or controlled by the Federal Government to be national monuments.” 54 U.S.C. §320301(a). Declaring a national monument brings substantial new layers of protected status to the areas or thing so designated, precluding many previously-authorized uses of the area or thing as well. To varying degrees, U.S. Presidents have exercised this authority both during the regular course of their administration and sometimes with heightened vigor at the end, or “midnight hour,” of their final term. Our experts examined the historic use of the Antiquities Act authority and particularly the phenomena of “midnight monument” designations across administrations, including those already completed or anticipated by the now-outgoing Obama Administration. Their analysis included a discussion of the controversial proposal to designate a Bears Ears national monument in Utah in the coming weeks, the historically large expansion in August of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to 582,578 square miles of land and sea, the September 15 designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, and more.
- Prof. Donald J. Kochan, Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, Chapman University School of Law
- Prof. Charles Wilkinson Distinguished Professor, Moses Lasky Professor of Law History and Society in the American West; Indian Law; Public Land Law; Water Law, University of Colorado Law School