Interior Department to Review National Monument Designations Since 1996

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

President Trump ordered the U.S. Department of Interior to review up to 40 national monument designations dating back to 1996 and recommend whether any should be rescinded, resized or modified. The review applies to monuments larger than 100,000 acres and those designations the department determined were not sufficiently coordinated with stakeholders.

At issue is the 110-year-old Antiquities Act, a law that gives the president authority to preserve land with significant natural, cultural or scientific features. Hundreds of millions of acres have been set aside over the decades leading many to question whether the footprints are larger than necessary. Two examples include the 1996 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (1.88 million acres) and the Bears Ear National Monument (1.35 million acres), both in Utah. President Trump’s order requires Interior to provide an interim report on Bears Ears within 45 days and a final report on the other monument designations within 120 days.  

SEMA supports the review of national monument designations and 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). The issue 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. 

For more information, contact Eric Snyder at