On Friday, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to designate a new national monument; Chimney Rock National Monument. This is the third time that the Antiquities Act has been used by President Obama to preserve and protect public land. Chimney Rock, located in southwestern Colorado, and has been listed as a National Historic Site since the 1970s. However, the designation as a National Monument will allow for greater protection of this area. Chimney Rock is located within the San Juan National Forest and therefore will become the 7th National Monument to be managed by the USDA Forest Service instead of the National Park Service.
The rock formation which gives the National Monument it’s name is considered a National Archaeological Site. The area around the formation was home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo people and the site contains the remains of their homes (occupied over 1,000 years ago). The site is still visited by the descendants of these ancient Pueblo people and therefore Chimney Rock has modern, cultural significance as well as natural significant. Due to the sensitive nature of the site, local tribal communities will work in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service to manage the new National Monument.
It has become customary for Presidents to use the Antiquities Act towards the end of their term and is a popular move during election years. Interestingly enough, President Obama designated Chimney Rock National Monument just days before Romney began his campaign in Colorado. Colorado happens to be a swing state in this years election. Here’s hoping the President Obama uses the Antiquities Act to protect more public land in the weeks leading up to November 4th.