Enacted over 100 years ago, the Antiquities Act has been used by presidents of both parties as an instrument to preserve and protect critical natural, historical, and scientific resources on Federal lands for future generations.
The Antiquities Act was the first U.S. law to provide general legal protection of cultural and natural resources of historic or scientific interest on Federal lands. After a generation-long effort, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act on June 8, 1906. The Antiquities Act set an important precedent by asserting a broad public interest in the preservation of these resources on Federal lands. Designations under the Act apply only to Federal lands; they place no restrictions on private property and have not affected valid existing rights.
After signing it into law, President Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act eighteen times to establish national monuments. Those first monuments included what are now known as Grand Canyon National Park, Petrified Forest National Park, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Tumacacori National Historical Park, and Olympic National Park.
(Department of the Interior, Congressional Testimony to Energy and Natural Resources Committee, United States Senate, July 27, 2016)