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The protection of endangered sites is in danger in the United States

Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

In 1906, the US Congress passed the Antiquities Act, which was signed into law by then President Theodore R. Roosevelt, a noted outdoor enthusiast. Since that time numerous parks and monuments have been given federal protection by a succession of both Democratic and Republican presidents. The law originated from concerns regarding the potential looting and destruction of Native American sites in the American Southwest, but it has since been used to protect a wide variety of sites of natural and cultural heritage. The largest such site—Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument at 583,000 square miles—was designated as a national monument by President Obama in 2014, expanding the monument dramatically in size from the original designation by President Bush some years earlier. Now, the Antiquities Act may be in danger of repeal, or at least significant amendments by the current US Congress.

The Endangered Antiquities Act

By John D. Leshy and Mark Squillace

The New York Times

March 31, 2017

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