Lee says reforming Antiquities Act will end uncertainty around national monuments

Sep 15, 2023, 9:00 PM | Updated: Sep 16, 2023, 8:08 am

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks during the Utah Republican Party Organizing Convention at Utah Valley...

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks during the Utah Republican Party Organizing Convention at Utah Valley University in Orem on Saturday, April 22, 2023. This week, Lee has brought up legislation that would reform the Antiquities Act that would help solve uncertainty around boundaries of national monuments. (Ryan Sun/Deseret News)

(Ryan Sun/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — For decades, Utah and many other states have had to endure uncertainty when it comes to land and national monuments. The boundaries change with each presidential administration. 

Most recently, President Biden declared a national monument in northern Arizona last month. 

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, shares with KSL NewsRadio a new bill that would reform the Antiquities Act. It would also limit a president’s authority in this regard. 


“This is a law that was passed about 110 years ago,” Lee said. “And it’s there to give the president authority to protect areas of importance, areas of scientific value, historical value.”

In every case where a president designates a monument, Lee says the area must be the smallest area compatible with the items being protected through the monument. 

The Utah senator says that isn’t necessarily happening now, especially in The Beehive State.

“What we’ve seen more recently is that we’ve had presidents declaring monuments,” Lee said. “That can be measured in terms of percentages of states. In fact, we, in the state of Utah, have had more monument land acres declared in our state, without the consent of our state’s lawmakers, then there is land in the entire state of Delaware.”

National monuments designated for six months

Lee says the legislation he proposed this week will preserve what the Antiquities Act was originally intended to do.

“It would say that when the president designates a monument,” Lee said. “That designation can remain intact for six months after the president decides to make it a monument. ”

Lee goes on to say, “And after that, if Congress decides, with-in that six-month period, to ratify it, to enact new legislation, to extend it beyond that, Congress may do so.”

Lee says the proposed compromise works for everybody.

“This is a very good compromise to allow the Antiquities Act to continue to perform that emergency-preserving function that it was designed to have,” he said. “But also to give states and to give people’s elected lawmakers in Congress broadly have the ability to weigh in and have their views known.”

One presidential declarative has been undone by the next. Lee is asked how do we move on from that?

“This is one the ways that we need to get past it is through legislative reform,” he said. “… There are uncertainties created by the controversial nature of the use of the Antiquities Act. The way it’s been interpreted by presidents and the way presidents have chosen to wield that authority has been destructive.”

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Inside Sources


Curt Gresseth

Dow closes down more than 500 points

The Dow dropped more than 750 points before closing down 525 points as inflation numbers rose higher than economists were anticipating.

6 days ago

cellphone schools...

Curt Gresseth

Governor’s message to students: ‘hang up and learn’

Gov. Spencer Cox wants cellphones to be banned in Utah schools during instruction time.

1 month ago


Curt Gresseth

Romney and Moore look to tame $34 trillion U.S. debt

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, weighing in on the $34 trillion U.S. debt and what, if anything, can do about it.

1 month ago

Cooper Brannon, 8, watches his father, Austin, vote at the Salt Lake County Government Center in Sa...

Simone Seikaly

One more day to officially switch political parties in Utah

This voter switching date is important for anybody who wants to participate in the Republican caucus on March 5.

1 month ago

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, center left, and Texas Department of Public Safety chief Steve McC...


Speaker Johnson demands hard-line policies during a border visit as Ukraine aid hangs in the balance

A congressional trip to Eagle Pass, Texas, follows demands for more hard-line immigration policies in exchange for Ukraine funding.

2 months ago

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Jon Batiste speak on stage during MTV's Mental Health Is ...

Mariah Maynes

A look into the surgeon general’s efforts against loneliness epidemic

Following the issuance of a public health warning about loneliness, the surgeon general has been visiting college campuses to promote social connection.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Lee says reforming Antiquities Act will end uncertainty around national monuments