Law & Order

President Obama Designates National Monuments in Utah and Nevada

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

President Obama used his power under the Antiquities Act to designate a 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah and a 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in southern Nevada. The designation is consequential since national monuments automatically prohibit new roads or trails for motorized vehicles and require a new land-management plan be drafted that could lead to more road closures.

Despite strong opposition to both monuments from state and local leaders, President Obama has now designated 29 national monuments and set aside 550 million acres of public lands and waters as monuments, national parks and wilderness. However, the fate of some of these designations is unclear, as key members of Congress are asking President-elect Trump to reverse many of these designations. To date, no president has ever reversed the designations of their predecessors, although Congress may overturn or reduce the size of national monuments through legislation.  

SEMA supports legislation in the U.S. Congress to curtail the President’s power to unilaterally designate national monuments by requiring their approval by Congress and the impacted state legislature(s). 

For more information, contact Eric Snyder at