|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
JUNE 8, 2004
|CONTACT: Sierra Club
Annie E. Strickler (202) 675-2384
Sierra Club, Concerned Citizens Call on Bush Administration to Honor Conservation Legacy of Teddy Roosevelt - Anniversary of Antiquities Act Time to Celebrate National Parks and Monuments
WASHINGTON - June 8 - Americans today are celebrating the anniversary of the Antiquities Act signed June 8, 1906, one of the fundamental tools with which President Theodore Teddy Roosevelt carved out his strong conservation legacy. On the anniversary of this landmark legislation, the Sierra Club and other environmental leaders are drawing attention to the ways in which the current Bush administration is undermining this legacy across Americas National Parks and Monuments.
Roosevelt protected 240 million acres of public lands. Rather than follow in these legendary footsteps, the Bush administration has weakened protections on 234 million acres. This week, Sierra Club members and other concerned citizens will hold events at the Statue of Liberty in New York City, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, and Valley Forge National Historic Park in Pennsylvania to highlight threats to these special places. For more information on these parks as well as Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountain, and Yellowstone National Parks, and some of Arizonas National Monuments, please visit http://www.sierraclub.org/wildlands/antiquities.
Roosevelt signed this landmark legislation to protect historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest for future generations. Many of our nations most cherished National Parks were once protected as Monuments, including Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Denali, Joshua Tree and many more. Together, National Parks and Monuments comprise a national treasure that attracts hundreds of millions of visitors each year.
Despite their far reaching benefits to the economy through tourism and recreation, today National Parks and Monuments are subject to a host of threats, including: chronic underfunding; noise and air pollution; development pressures; destructive ORV use; and oil and gas drilling. Air pollution threatens some of Americas most loved National Parks, like Great Smoky Mountain National Park where, over the last few decades, average visibility in summer months is down from 77 miles to 15 and the maintenance backlog is approaching $170 million. Air pollution of a different form blankets Yellowstone National Park each winter as snowmobiles enter the park en masse, forcing park employees to wear gas masks and disrupting the quiet splendor of the nations first National Park. Oil and gas development has surged under the Bush administration, with oil rigs and drilling pads making their way onto lands protected as parks and monuments. Padre Island National Seashore, the longest undeveloped barrier beach in the world and home to the endangered Kemps Ridley sea turtle, is now also home to a series of drilling sites.
A recent survey by the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees of 12 representative National Parks found cuts in budget, staff and key visitor services. For more information, please visit: http://www.protectamericaslands.org/ or http://www.npsretirees.org/
QUOTES FROM CONSERVATION LEADERS:
The Bush administration has systematically reversed the strong conservation legacy that President Teddy Roosevelt started when he signed the Antiquities Act 98 years ago. There is a better way. Americans cherish their natural heritage and want their National Parks and Monuments other wild places protected. As Americans head out this summer to explore and enjoy their National Parks and Monuments, they should be aware of the growing threats to these treasures. We must act now to restore and protect the clean air, clear vistas, and unscathed landscapes that should be the standard for Americas public lands. -- Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director
This system of monuments and parks can be enjoyed by all Americans, whether they are fit or infirm. In the early days, private interests such as railroads sought to encroach on our national parks. Poachers thought these parks were their private refrigerators. It took us two decades to understand that these parks are held in trust for all Americans, and to establish proper funding to protect them. These lands are part of our national heritage, and we can and should take pride in them and protect them for future generations. -- Theodore Roosevelt IV
"The passage of the Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities on June 8, 1906 was one of the most important actions taken in behalf of the protection of our heritage in the history of this country. Beginning with Theodore Roosevelt that same year, this law has been used by more than a dozen presidents to add national monuments to our superlative national park system. Unfortunately, the wisdom and vision of these past leaders is being undone by the current Administration. Our children and grandchildren deserve better." -- Bill Wade, Coordinator of the Park Service retirees coalition.
"The Antiquities Act has been used by 14 presidents from both parties, including conservative Republicans such as Calvin Coolidge, to protect America's great natural legacies. The law gave initial protection to some of our nation's most beloved places, including the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, and this beacon of hope, the Statue of Liberty. As Theodore Roosevelt said, conservation is our patriotic duty. We must rediscover the moral commitment to conservation that the Antiquities Act embodies and pass on our nation's rich heritage to unborn generations." -- Jim DiPeso, Policy Director of the Republicans for Environmental Protection.