Law & Order

U.S. House Committee Passes Bill to Rein-In National Monument Designations

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed SEMA-supported legislation that would limit the president’s authority to unilaterally designate national monuments. The "National Monument Creation and Protection Act" (H.R. 3990) would limit the size of future national monument designations, require approval of state and local government bodies for larger monument designations, cap the size of designations at 85,000 acres and narrow the criteria used to determine national monuments. 

The bill would specifically:

  • Limit the size of monument designations based on their size:
  1. 640 acres or less: presidents could unilaterally designate only these monuments.
  2. 641 and 5,000 acres: require a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review.
  3. 5,001 to 10,000 acres: require an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS) in addition to a NEPA review.
  4. 10,001 to 85,000 acres: require either an EA or EIS, a NEPA review, and the approval of the county government, state legislature and governor in the impacted area.
  • Limit what objects qualify for monument protections, including relics, artifacts, fossils and skeletal remains, and certain previously constructed buildings.
  • Clarify the president's ability to reduce the size of a monument by up to 85,000 acres without congressional approval. Larger reductions would require the approval of the county government, state legislature and governor where the site is located and a NEPA review.

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