Jack Morris’ recent letter excoriated President Jimmy Carter for designating 56 million acres as national monuments in 1978, under the Antiquities Act — much of the acreage without “antiquities” present. True — but only partly.
This was a “holding action” until Congress could take up the issue of various parks and preserves in Alaska. Two years later, Congress did designate most of these areas as national parks, national wildlife refuges and so on, by passing the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, aka ANILCA.
It’s true that the original purpose of the Antiquities Act of 1906 was to preserve archeological sites. But since then, many of our most valued national parks were initially protected as national monuments, and not only for their archeological values. Examples include the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and part of Grand Teton National Parks.There are millions of acres in Alaska that are still open for exploitation — where that does not harm other resources. Carter did us Alaskans a huge favor.
— Vivian Mendenhall
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