One way Obama’s lands policy has frustrated many in the environmental community is that, unlike most other Democratic presidents in memory and many Republicans for that matter, he has been reticent to use the 1906 Antiquities Act to create new protected lands. This is part and parcel of his centrist lands policy, personified in the Ken Salazar-led Department of Interior.
Finally, Obama has moved to use the act to create Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, a clear and worthy addition to the National Park system that will center on Civil War and African-American history.
One can certainly question whether we should be adding to the parks when we have underfunded them for so long, but at the very least, this move provides permanent protection for a valuable piece of American history.
Now if only Obama would use the Antiquities Act to protect some of our western lands in danger of mineral development. Unlikely.