December 12, 2017

So, Is Katahdin Woods and Waters Now On The Chopping Block?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Now that’s a laugh!

It has been announced that President Trump, citing the intent of the Antiquities Act, has reduced the sizes of a couple of National Monuments in Utah. After examining the press release does this mean places like Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters is scheduled for the chopping block?

That’s not likely going to happen, but one has to wonder why in Utah and not in other places? Or, are there more to come? What’s on that land in Utah that is important enough for Trump to do this and not in more places?

Maybe the best place to start is at the beginning. Below is a copy of the Antiquities Act of 1906, signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt.

~~~~~~~~

American Antiquities Act of 1906

16 USC 431-433

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any person who shall appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroy any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated on lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States, without the permission of the Secretary of the Department of the Government having jurisdiction over the lands on which said antiquities are situated, shall, upon conviction, be fined in a sum of not more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for a period of not more than ninety days, or shall suffer both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

Sec. 2. 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 proper care and management of the objects to be protected: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fied unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.

Sec. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, and the gathering of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their respective jurisdictions may be granted by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutions which the may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation, or gathering, subject to such rules and regulation as they may prescribe: Provided, That the examinations, excavations, and gatherings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the gatherings shall be made for permanent preservation in public museums.

Sec. 4. That the Secretaries of the Departments aforesaid shall make and publish from time to time uniform rules and regulations for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act.

Approved, June 8, 1906 

[Emboldening Added]

Section 1, clearly states that the intent of the Act is to protect “historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity.” These artifacts are those found on Federal Land and/or private lands that the private landowner has or will “relinquished to the Government.”

These so-called “antiquities” that needed protection, at the time of the creation of this act, were items that someone could,  “…appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroy any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity.” The abuse that has happened in this regard wonders how someone might “appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroy” a view or a small river.

With that in mind, looking at Section 2, an honest examination of the Katahdin Woods and Waters has to bring forth the question as to what, precisely sits on the 87,563 acres of donated land that qualifies as, “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.”

If President Trump’s motivating factor for reducing the National Monuments in Utah was to limit the scope of land designated as protecting “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest,” and there are no real “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” found at the Katahdin Woods and Waters site, should the president remove National Monument designation from that site and simply turn the land, given by Roxanne Quimby, over to management by the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service?

Argument will always be made as to the value-weighted perspective of what the Katahdin Woods and Waters has to offer that qualifies as worthy of protection. The only view of anything worthwhile is of Mt. Katahdin and that can be seen in many places throughout the region. Other than that everything else in the new park can be found commonly in many places across Maine and other states.

Removing designation will never happen but the point should be made that abuse of the Antiquities Act has repercussions, many of which will not be felt at the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument until sometime into the future. It is very little this administration can do that would justify a move to remove the entire national monument designation.

So Mainers are stuck with what there is.

 

 

Share