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Nevada's Treasures Showcased: Antiquities Act Turns 115


Monday, June 28, 2021   

GOLD BUTTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, Nev. - Nevada is home to some of the last virtually untouched wide open spaces in this country, largely thanks to the Antiquities Act, which turns 115 years old this month.

17 presidents have used the Act since 1906 to create 158 national monuments. Professor Paula Garrett - adjunct faculty at the College of Southern Nevada and a member of Friends of Basin and Range - said places like Basin and Range National Monument are ancient, vast and unspoiled.

"One of the great advantages that we have here in Nevada is we still have land that is virtually pristine," said Garrett. "It's the way it was 100 years ago. The way it was 500 years ago. "

President Warren G. Harding used the Antiquities Act in 1922 to create Lehman Caves National Monument, which later became Great Basin National Park.

11 years later, President Herbert Hoover created Death Valley National Monument, which later became a national park, straddling the California/Nevada border.

President Barack Obama created Basin and Range in 2015, and designated Gold Butte National Monument in 2016, just weeks before leaving office.

Brenda Slocumb, operations manager with Friends of Gold Butte, said the striking landscape is prime habitat for the Mojave desert tortoise - and showcases Nevada's human history.

"Cultural and native American treasures can be preserved," said Slocumb. "We have rock art, writings from previous civilizations, old pioneer sites, there is mining history, even a civilian conservation corps dam from the 1930s. "

The Trump administration actually shrank two national monuments in Utah. There was talk about making Gold Butte smaller but those plans never came to fruition.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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