Cesar Chavez Foundation and National Parks Group Defend the Antiquities Act

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Defending the President’s use of the Antiquities Act to strengthen our National Park System, the National Parks Conservation Association and Cesar Chavez Foundation expressed their support for recent designations, and concern for bills that stand to weaken the law.

Defending the President’s use of the Antiquities Act to strengthen our National Park System, the National Parks Conservation Association and Cesar Chavez Foundation expressed their support for recent designations, and concern for bills that stand to weaken the law. Eight bills were discussed on Tuesday, during a hearing at the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation. Of the eight, five call for state-specific prohibitions of the use of the President’s use of the Antiquities Act, with more sweeping restrictions proposed in the remaining three.

“The Chavez family, the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the farm worker movement are deeply concerned over legislation to limit the President’s ability to create new national monuments,” said Paul Chavez, President of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “Any proposal to prohibit or restrict the president’s authority to bestow the honor of a new National Park site to commemorate important American figures and movements that strengthened our democracy should be opposed.”

“President Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act has helped to measurably diversify our National Park System. We must ensure that all Americans see their ancestor’s history reflected in the System. When opportunities to bring superlative examples of our nation’s diverse history present themselves, such as with the Fort Monroe, Cesar Chavez, Colonel Charles Young, and Harriet Tubman National Monuments; and when an overwhelming public support is shown for a designation like the First State National Monument - we need to seize, not squander them,” said Kristen Brengel, Legislative Director for the National Parks Conservation Association.

In 2009, the National Parks Second Century Commission issued a report of recommendations for the National Park Service to consider, as the agency heads towards its centennial in 2016. The Commission was chaired by Senators Howard Baker and Bennett Johnston, and included a distinguished group of Americans. One of the report’s lead recommendations was that the National Park System needs to become more diverse, reflecting our nation’s evolving history.

“Last October, President Obama proclaimed before 7,000 people the National Chavez Center at La Paz in Keene, California as the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, the 398th unit of the National Park Service. Now the story of my father, Cesar Chavez, and the contributions of thousands of Latinos, immigrants and others who joined La Causa over the decades is being shared with all of America through the National Park Service. Our country is only strengthened when the stories of farm workers and Latinos are shared with all of our fellow citizens,” said Chavez.

Of the nine national monuments that President Obama has designated to date, five are managed by the National Park System: Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in California, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio, First State National Monument in Delaware, and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland. Each of the monument designations enjoyed widespread support by community leaders and elected officials, leading up to their declaration.

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