antiquities

House Republicans pressed forward Tuesday with a slate of bills meant to tamp down on the president’s authority to preserve lands via the century-old Antiquities Act.

For generations, presidents of both parties have used the statute to set aside millions of acres as protected national monuments. But a group of GOP lawmakers contend that the law has been wrongfully used to lock up vast swaths of land and resources through executive fiat, with little public or congressional input.

Since it was enacted in 1906, presidents have created more than 140 monuments under powers afforded by the Antiquities Act. President Theodore Roosevelt, a driving force behind the act, used it to create national monuments at the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest and Muir Woods among many other sites. Since then, most presidents have used the act to protect certain tracts of lands, sometimes vast tracts, from development.