National Geographic : 2006 Dec
ENVIRONMENT A Century of Conservation Fifteen of the past 18 U.S . Presidents have invoked the Antiquities Act. Masked boobies on Hawaii's protected Pearl and Hermes Atoll Words Create Worlds When Congress drafted an "act for the preservation of American antiquities" in 1906, the bill had a relatively modest goal: to stop the vandalism and theft of ancient Native American artifacts in America's Southwest. But the legislation's language helped it evolve into something far bigger. The act gave the President authority to protect objects of historic or scientific interest by designating them as national monu ments. Realizing the power Congress had just given him, President Theodore Roosevelt thought big-setting aside 18 different sites as national monuments, including Muir Woods in California and Arizona's Petrified Forest. This year President George W. Bush invoked Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, at nearly 140,000 square miles the largest marine sanctuary in the world (photo above and map). A century after its creation, the Antiquities Act remains a legacy of the Progressive era, a way for the President to quickly protect the public interest by saving a national treasure. -A lan Mairson PHOTOS:SUSANMIDDLETON(TOPLEFT);CORBIS(TOPRIGHT); HERBERTSPICHTINGER,ZEFA/CORBIS the act to establish the NORTHWESTERN HAWAIIAN Midway ISLANDS MARINE NATIONAL KurIslands MONUMENT Atoll Pearl and Hermes Atoll Lisianski Island ASIA NORTH AMERICA PACIFIC OCEAN AREA ENLARGED Woodrow Wilson adds Dinosaur National Monu ment to the list of protected places. 1924 The Statue of Liberty gets national monu ment status 38 years after its dedication. Ellis Island is incor porated as part of the monument in 1965. 1943 The National Park Service is sued over creation of Jackson Hole National Monu ment. The park service prevails. 1996 President Bill Clinton names his first national monument: Utah's Grand Staircase Escalante. I Gardner ysanI. Pinnacles Necker I (Mokumanamana) ihoa uai SKaua 'i a Honolulu '.}Maui /Hawai'i Omi 400 0km 400 NGMMAPS Three months after the passage of the Antiquities Act, Theodore Roosevelt names Devils Tower the first U.S. national monument. 1908 Roosevelt deems 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon an "object of unusual scientific interest." 1978 President Jimmy Carter sets aside 56 million acres of Alaska wilderness -effectively doubling the size of the National Park System. 2001 Days before leaving office, Clinton designates seven more monuments, bringing his Presi dency's total to 19. 2006 President George W. Bush creates Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument.