Honouliuli: New Monument, New Opportunities


Established by presidential proclamation on February 24, 2015, and thus one of the nation’s newest park units, Honouliuli National Monument is in the process of developing visitor programs and other services.

Honouliuli is also in the process of hiring a park ranger.

According to the job announcement “[t]his park ranger will be one of the first two employees hired to work at Honouliuli National Monument. The other initial HONO employee will be a GS-11 term Outdoor Recreation Planner.”

“The park ranger will focus on initial efforts to interpret the site. Since there is currently no visitor center and very limited access to the site, the park ranger’s efforts will include off-site presentations about Honouliuli’s history, some on-site programs for specially arranged groups, and non-personal interpretation, such as interpretive writing for brochure[s], social media, and the park’s website.”

Applications are due by July 6, 2015. Additional details are at


For those interested in national monuments and park interpretation, this is truly an interesting opportunity to “connect people to parks.”

Honouliuli: New Monument, New Opportunities


Positive Law


February 19, 2015: President Obama signs Proclamation 9232 establishing Browns Canyon National Monument

Positive Law and the Antiquities Act

Since 1906, there has been a certain rhythm to national monument proclamation texts which persisted more or less unchanged until 2015. Given that presidential use of the Antiquities Act has lately experienced an increase in the amount of media, congressional, and general attention received, it seems appropriate to note this change.

With the passage of H.R. 1068, which became Public Law Number 113-287 on December 19, 2014, national monument proclamations via presidential use of the Antiquities Act will have a different look.

Here’s an example to illustrate one aspect of the change.

In September of 1906, Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural national monument proclamation opened with the following text:

Whereas, It is provided by section two of the Act of Congress, approved June 8, 1906, entitled, ‘An Act for the preservation of American Antiquities. . . .‘”

The opening line was followed by this passage:

Now, therefore, I, THEODORE ROOSEVELT, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the power in me vested by section two of the aforesaid Act of Congress, do hereby set aside as the Devils Tower National Monument, the lofty and isolated rock situated in Crook County, Wyoming. . . .”

Nearly every single presidential national monument proclamation since Roosevelt’s designation of Devils Tower has included reliably similar content in these passages.

Fast-forward to February of 2015 and here’s what the passages look like:

WHEREAS section 320301 of title 54, United States Code (known as the “Antiquities Act”), authorizes the President. . . .

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 320301 of title 54, United States Code, hereby proclaim the objects identified above that are situated upon lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Federal Government to be the Browns Canyon National Monument. . . .”

In addition to this first post-H.R. 1068 proclamation (establishing Browns Canyon National Monument), Proclamation 9233 (establishing Pullman National Monument on February 19, 2015), and Proclamation 9234 (establishing Honouliuli National Monument on February 24, 2015) also include the new reference to “section 320301 of title 54, United States Code.”

For at least this researcher, “Section 2 of the Antiquities Act” and “section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906” were benchmark phrases, easily recognized while scanning through piles of presidential documents, and critically important in tracking presidential- versus congressionally-designated monuments. The replacement—“section 320301 of title 54, United States Code”—has a different flow and obviously lacks that instant connection with the century’s worth of monument proclamation texts that preceded its introduction. Give “section 320301” a hundred years, though, and a new crop of scholars, and it will likely hold similar value.

Reminiscing aside, the next post will address follow-up questions including what H.R. 1068 is, why it was signed into law, and how it might affect future national monument proclamations. A consideration of positive law codification and some extremely helpful Office of the Law Revision Counsel sources will also be included.


Image credit: Mark Knoller, CBS News White House Correspondent, via @markknoller (Photographer confirmation and permission to use image requested 2-19-15)

The source for this image is here.


Positive Law


Making Monuments in the Ocean

Making Monuments in the Ocean: George W. Bush’s Use of the Antiquities Act to Establish Large-Scale Ocean-Focused National Monuments

Between 2006 and 2009, then-President George W. Bush used his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish a series of large-scale ocean-focused national monuments. The establishment of these national monuments illustrates a remarkable turning point in the history of presidential use of the Antiquities Act. Previous national monument designations had focused on land-based elements, with the size of the area protected under these designations typically being measured in acres. George W. Bush’s national monument designations focused on ocean-based elements, including emergent and submerged lands, and were of such a vast scale that the area protected under his designations was measured in square miles.

While not the first president to use the term square miles in a proclamation text, George W. Bush’s designations were exceptional in being an order of magnitude larger than any of the preceding national monument designations. Examples include the establishment of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument (Proclamation No. 8031, 71 Fed. Reg. 36443, June 15, 2006), which reserved an area of approximately 139,793 square miles; the establishment of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument (Proclamation No. 8335, 74 Fed. Reg. 1557, January 6, 2009), which reserved an area of approximately 95,216 square miles; and the establishment of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (Proclamation No. 8336, 74 Fed. Reg. 1565, January 6, 2009), which reserved an area of approximately 86,888 square miles.

President Bush’s use of the Antiquities Act to create these large-scale reserves also marks a turning point in his administration’s position regarding the use of presidential authority to establish national monuments on federal lands. Having campaigned on a platform that condemned executive designation of national monuments and taken office with a goal of reconsidering and possibly rolling back the scope of monuments established by the Clinton Administration, Bush’s Antiquities Act proclamations instead vaulted him into the unlikely position of being the chief executive with the largest number of acres reserved by establishment under the authority of the Act. In fact, by the time he left office, President Bush had set aside more acres under the Antiquities Act than Theodore Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and all of the other former presidents combined.

Bush’s role as an ocean-focused president was enhanced by Barack Obama’s recent expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (Proclamation 9173, Federal Register Pages 58643 – 58653 [FR DOC # 2014-23319], September 25, 2014). The combined area of this Bush-Obama national monument—approximately 490,000 square miles—prompted a renewed interest in George W. Bush’s environmental actions and positioned the United States as home to the largest fully protected marine reserve in the world. More than just a numbers game, President Bush’s decision to use the Antiquities Act so expansively may be viewed by future historians as the single most important contribution to America’s environmental preservation history to come out of the George W. Bush White House.


“Making Monuments in the Ocean” text by Kurt Angersbach / Westernlabs


Martin Litton 1917 – 2014


Martin Litton

February 13, 1917, to November 30, 2014

On his passing, stories from Dinosaur National Monument to Giant Sequoia National Monument and beyond. (Note: I only spoke with Martin Litton once, by phone back in 2006, but this conversation and the views he expressed fundamentally altered my perspective on forests and land management. In reading these articles, it seems like that’s the kind of influence he had on people. Thank you to Jeanne Nienaber Clarke for making this connection happen!)

“Appreciation: Lessons From the Man Who Stopped Grand Canyon Dams”

The full text of this National Geographic article is here.

“Martin Litton dies at 97; passionate wilderness conservationist”

The full text of this Los Angeles Times article is here.

“Environmental warrior Martin Litton is still fighting at 95”

From 2012, the full text of this High Country News article is here.

“Sierra Club Director and Uncompromising Preservationist, 1950s-1970s.”

From 1982, the Sierra Club Oral History Series at The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.


Image credit: Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times

Martin Litton

Love Your Monuments? Please Slow Down!


Here’s an awesome and timely heads up from Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington:

“Watch for Wildlife

The days are turning shorter and the nights colder. Fall is the time of year when wildlife is on the move, preparing for a difficult winter. While winters in the Columbia Basin aren’t that stressful to wildlife, nonetheless creatures here follow the natural instincts of their kind everywhere and are on the move preparing for winter. This is also the time of year when young are dispersing, leaving their birthplace to find territories of their own. Drivers need to slow down and keep a constant watch for wildlife. Haven’t you noticed more dead animals along the road lately? There’s always an upswing of wildlife-vehicle collisions in the fall. So, if getting home 23 seconds sooner is worth squashing a squirrel, mangling a marmot, bashing a beaver, or demolishing a deer, then by all means, keep driving like you’re on the NASCAR circuit. Apart from the permanent damage to wildlife, you’ll incur several hundred dollars worth of damage to your car. So, why don’t you just follow the traffic laws instead? Both your fellow drivers and our wildlife will thank you.”

Learn more about this monument here

“Welcome to the Hanford Reach National Monument—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s first national monument.”

Image credit and sources:

Image from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “About Hanford Reach National Monument

Text from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “Of Special Interest: Watch for Wildlife” and “About Hanford Reach National Monument


Love Your Monuments? Please Slow Down!


Dear Los Angeles Times


Members of Congress watch as President Obama signs San Gabriel Mountains proclamation

Dear Los Angeles Times,

In regards to your October 10, 2014, article “Critics protest Obama’s San Gabriel Mountains National Monument” by Louis Sahagun and Kate Mather, and specifically the statement therein: “The designation marks the 13th time that Obama has used his executive powers to establish or expand a national monument without congressional approval.”

The President is always acting with congressional approval when exercising his authority under the Antiquities Act. The text of the Antiquities Act shows both the source and discretionary power of this authority:

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled . . .

That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with [the] proper care and management of the objects to be protected. . . .”

“Approved, June 8, 1906”

Furthermore, each national monument proclamation from President Obama includes an explicit statement expressing this congressional authority:

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Antiquities Act, hereby proclaim the objects identified above that are situated upon lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be. . . .”

National monument proclamations from presidents Theodore Roosevelt to George W. Bush also include a statement such as this one. Congress has amended the Antiquities Act once and, as the nation’s lawmakers, may do so again in the future. Consideration of the Act’s 108-year history, however, suggests that presidential use of the Antiquities Act is clearly occurring with the approval of Congress.

[Letter to the editor, submitted October 11, 2014, with the following response:

“Thank you! Your letter has been successfully submitted.”]


Image credit and sources:

Image from Representative Judy Chu, October 10, 2014. For original image and associated text, please click here.

Los Angeles Times article source: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-protest-obama-san-gabriel-mountains-national-monument-20141010-story.html

From Sections 1-4 of the American Antiquities Act of 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431-433)

Antiquities Act text source: http://www.cr.nps.gov/local-law/anti1906.htm

Antiquities Act as amended: http://www.cr.nps.gov/local-law/FHPL_AntiAct.pdf

The  Obama national monument proclamation text source used in this example is from his 2014 establishment of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-05-28/pdf/2014-12508.pdf

Also see this letter from Congress to USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack, in which Members of Congress request “protection of existing recreational opportunities,” along with the “establishment of [a] Public Advisory Council,” as well as other specific elements addressing local, regional, tribal, and other stakeholder values,  should these public lands become a national monument.

Dear Los Angeles Times


Designation of the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Monument

“Remarks by the President at Designation of the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Monument”

Views of the San Gabriel Mountains from 2013 and 2014

“And 150 years ago, President Lincoln signed a law that forever changed the way we conserve our natural heritage. It might have seemed like an odd thing to do at the time. Civil war raged between North and South; the fate of our union hung in the balance. Lincoln himself had never even been to California. For a good part of his life, his home state of Illinois was considered the West.

But descriptions and drawings, and even some early photographs of the Yosemite Valley, had made their way back East — the cathedral peaks, the waterfalls, the giant sequoias. So too had stories about encroaching development that threatened the area. So President Lincoln decided to help protect a place he had never visited — for a nation he might not be able to save and for a future he would never live to see. And that place is at the heart of what now is Yosemite National Park.

So it’s fitting that we meet here in California, because this was the state that inspired Lincoln’s actions, and made possible all that followed, including this moment. Today, I’m using my executive authority to designate the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument. (Applause.)”


These remarks are from the White House, Office of the Press Secretary, October 10, 2014.

For the full text of President Obama’s remarks on the designation of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument, please click here.

For the White House statement and release (including area map) titled “President Obama Designates San Gabriel Mountains National Monument,” please click here.

Image credits (two images above): US Forest Service Air Monitoring Program

For more information about the US Forest Service Air Monitoring Program, please click here.

Image archiving: Westernlabs

Current and archived images from US Forest Service and National Park Service locations are available here  Westernlabs  @WesternlabsUS  and here  Kurt Angersbach  @theparktoday

Designation of the San Gabriel Mountains as a National Monument