Organizations Call on House Leadership to Oppose HR 1459
Washington, DC – Fighting back against legislation that stands to dismantle presidential use of the Antiquities Act to designate new national park sites and other protected public lands, the Cesar Chavez Foundation, National Parks Conservation Association, National Tour Association, and nearly 90 organizations sent a letter to House leadership today, expressing disapproval. The legislation, HR 1459, Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act or “EPIC,” is scheduled for a House vote this week.
“Since President Teddy Roosevelt, nearly every President – Republican and Democratic — has designated national monuments, including the Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty, and Olympic National Park. These are places families vacation, recreate, and reflect on our shared, diverse history,” said Craig Obey, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Nine of the 14 national park sites that were reopened with state donations during the shutdown due to their economic importance were originally designated as monuments under the Antiquities Act.”
Under a provision of the bill, the president could not have used the Antiquities Act to establish Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, as the bill limits the number of monument designations made in a state during a Presidential term; the BLM-Managed Fort Ord National Monument was designated before the Chavez monument was established.
“The Chavez family, the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the farm worker movement are deeply concerned over legislation to limit the President’s ability to create new national monuments,” said Paul Chavez, President of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “In October of 2012, President Obama proclaimed before 7,000 people the National Chavez Center at La Paz in Keene, California as the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument. Now the story of my father, Cesar Chavez, and the contributions of thousands of Latinos, immigrants and others who joined La Causa over the decades is being shared with all of America through the National Park Service. “Any proposal to prohibit or restrict the president’s authority to bestow the honor of a new National Park site to commemorate important American figures and movements that strengthened our democracy should be opposed.”
“From the National Park Service’s recently completed American Latino theme study and other in-progress studies surrounding diverse American populations, it is clear that holes in our National Park System still exist – we need to seize opportunities to enhance our park system, to tell a more diverse story about American history,” said Obey. “ One year ago today, President Obama answered the calls that came from years of widespread support by local community leaders and elected officials, yet inaction from Congress, when he made in-roads to diversifying our National Park System by designating the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers, and First State National Monuments.”
In addition to providing unforgettable vacation experiences, our national monuments and National Park System sites are incredible economic generators. A recently released economic report found that with every dollar invested in the National Park System generated roughly $10 in economic benefits. National parks support nearly a quarter million jobs annually and $26.5 billion in economic activity.
Since it became law in 1906, nearly every President, regardless of political affiliation, has used the Antiquities Act. With the exception of the Organic Act of 1916 which created our National Park Service, arguably no law has had more influence over the development of the modern National Park System and other public lands than the Antiquities Act.
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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