WASHINGTON  (October 12, 2017) – WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) released a statement on the House Natural Resources Committee’s markup of the National Monument Creation and Protection Act.

The following statement was released by WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs John Calvelli:

“The legislation under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives to undermine the Antiquities Act is painfully misguided. Far from protecting any of America’s natural wonders, this new bill would only make it much more difficult to conserve the last wild areas of our country which act as recreational opportunities, economic drivers and critical wildlife habitat.

“President Teddy Roosevelt, whose work with the New York Zoological Society (predecessor of the Wildlife Conservation Society) helped make him one of the country’s greatest conservationists, used the Antiquities Act to safeguard natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon and Devils Tower as national monuments for future generations. Under the proposed changes to the law, no such natural features could be used as the basis for a monument designation in the future.

“Protected areas, including national monuments, are essential to prevent the loss of endangered species and threatened wild nature. They support connectivity for species that must migrate to survive, especially as they adapt to loss of habitat and rapidly changing conditions.

“Marine national monuments also play a key role in supporting migrating wildlife. The extensive coral reefs of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, established by President George W. Bush and expanded by President Barack Obama, provide a critical role for rare species such as the threatened green turtle and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. However, under the proposed changes to the law, no new marine national monuments could be created.

“In the U.S., millions of Americans flock to national monuments for recreation, pumping billions of dollars into local economies. Research continues to show that populated areas adjacent to newly created national monuments have seen notable economic benefits.

“There are myriad scientific and economic reasons why the Antiquities Act, as it exists today, should remain intact. The most important, though, may be the simplest: it protects America’s wildest and most unique places, and that’s how most Americans want it.”