The Interior Department is reviewing the protected status of 27 national monuments after President Trump signed an executive order saying the designations amounted to an overreach of federal authority.
While no decisions have been made about the monuments yet, the process could potentially alter the protections granted by Trump’s three predecessors.
Ahead of signing his executive order last month, Trump said the designations imposed under former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were essentially “a massive federal land grab.”
“Today I’m signing an executive order to end another egregious abuse of federal power and to give that power back to the states and to the people, where it belongs,” he said.
The monuments were protected under the Antiquities Act — a 1906 law signed by Theodore Roosevelt that explicitly grants presidents the power to designate national monuments from federal lands.
The law doesn’t give presidents the authority to undo the designations of their predecessors.
Among the monuments up for review are 22 on federal lands, almost exclusively in western states, and five marine monuments in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Federal land ownership has been the subject of heated political debate, particularly in western states, where the federal government holds vast swaths of land. In Nevada, for example, nearly 80 percent of land is federally owned. In Alaska, it’s about 61 percent.