Why do national monuments matter to sportsmen and the outdoor industry?
Caddis blizzards on the Arkansas River in Browns Canyon. Drawing a coveted bull elk tag for the Missouri Breaks. A good pointing dog locked up on a covey of Mearns quail in the Organ Mountains — Desert Peaks. Hiking into Rio Grande del Norte to find solitude and trout. These are just a handful of the experiences that await hunters and anglers in our nation’s national monuments.
Each of these areas was conserved as a national monument by a president exercising their authority under the Antiquities Act. As national monuments, each of the places will be kept just the way they are today and provide world-class hunting and fishing opportunities for future generations.
The undersigned hunting and fishing businesses and organizations represent millions of American sportsmen and are part of a thriving outdoor recreation industry that contributes $646 billion annually to the U.S. economy. We are writing in support of the Antiquities Act of 1906 and to request that it be used responsibly and in a way that supports the continuation of hunting and fishing in America. The Antiquities Act is an important conservation tool and using the tenets detailed below will ensure hunting, fishing and wildlife values are priority considerations and that future land protections enjoy widespread support.
Over a century ago, Congress recognized that there was need to ensure that public lands of “historic or scientific interest” be conserved as national monuments through executive action by the president. Known as the Antiquities Act, it was signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt and has since become one of the most successful conservation tools in American history.
Over the next 110 years, 16 U.S. presidents — eight Democrats and eight Republicans — have used the Antiquities Act to protect some of the nation’s best public lands, including areas important for hunting and fishing like Colorado’s Browns Canyon and New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte. In each of these locations, sportsmen supported, locally-driven legislative proposals languished in Congress for years — sometimes decades — despite overwhelming support. Faced with Congressional inaction, the Antiquities Act provided a path forward.
The Antiquities Act is a tool, and like any tool there is a right and wrong way to use it. To that end, numerous hunting and fishing organizations and businesses have been steadfast in our belief that the following tenets must be followed in places important to hunting and fishing, prior to the designation of any future national monuments.
- The monument proposal must be developed through a public process — one that includes hunters and anglers, as well as appropriate state and local governments.
- The monument proclamation must clearly stipulate that management authority over fish and wildlife populations will be retained by state fish and wildlife agencies.
- Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands must remain under the authority of a multiple-use focused land management agency.
- Reasonable public access must be retained to enable continued hunting and fishing opportunities.
- The input and guidance of hunters and anglers must be included in management plans for national monuments.
- Important fish and wildlife habitat must be protected.
- The proposal must enjoy support from local sportsmen and women.
- Sporting opportunities must be upheld and the historical and cultural significance of hunting and fishing explicitly acknowledged in the monument proclamation.
Adherence to these tenets will ensure the responsible use of the Antiquities Act, and we oppose any effort to undermine Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy by undoing or modifying it. Instead, we urge you to encourage its use through a process that is locally driven, transparent, incorporates the science-based management and conservation of important fish and wildlife habitat, and upholds continued opportunities to hunt and fish.