National monument (United States)

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Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming Devils Tower as Seen From the Path Along the Base.jpg
Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
Navajo National Monument, Arizona Navajo National Monument Tsegi Canyon Betatakin Dwelling 28-09-2012 9-38-03.jpg
Navajo National Monument, Arizona
Statue of Liberty National Monument, New Jersey and New York Liberty01.jpg
Statue of Liberty National Monument, New Jersey and New York
Fort Matanzas National Monument, Florida Ft Matanzas 2008.JPG
Fort Matanzas National Monument, Florida

In the United States, a national monument is a protected area that is similar to a national park, but can be created from any land owned or controlled by the federal government [lower-alpha 1] by proclamation of the President of the United States.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Protected area location which receives protection because of its recognised natural, ecological or cultural landscape values

Protected areas or conservation areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international organizations involved.

Federal government of the United States National government of the United States

The federal government of the United States is the national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories and several island possessions. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the president and the federal courts, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of Congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court.


National monuments can be managed by one of several federal agencies: the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (in the case of marine national monuments). Historically, some national monuments were managed by the War Department. [1]

National Park Service United States federal agency

The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the United States federal government that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. It was created on August 25, 1916, by Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act and is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. The NPS is charged with a dual role of preserving the ecological and historical integrity of the places entrusted to its management while also making them available and accessible for public use and enjoyment.

United States Forest Service Federal forest and grassland administrators

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass 193 million acres (780,000 km2). Major divisions of the agency include the National Forest System, State and Private Forestry, Business Operations, and the Research and Development branch. Managing approximately 25% of federal lands, it is the only major national land agency that is outside the U.S. Department of the Interior.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service US federal government agency

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is an agency of the US federal government within the US Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats. The mission of the agency is "working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people."

National monuments can be so designated through the power of the Antiquities Act of 1906. President Theodore Roosevelt used the act to declare Devils Tower in Wyoming as the first U.S. national monument.

Antiquities Act

The Antiquities Act of 1906,, is an act that was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906. This law gives the President of the United States the authority to, by presidential proclamation, create national monuments from federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features. The Act has been used more than a hundred times since its passage.

Theodore Roosevelt 26th president of the United States

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was an American statesman, politician, conservationist, naturalist, and writer who served as the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909. He served as the 25th vice president from March to September 1901 and as the 33rd governor of New York from 1899 to 1900. As a leader of the Republican Party, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century. His face is depicted on Mount Rushmore alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. He is generally ranked in polls of historians and political scientists as one of the five best presidents.

Devils Tower Laccolith Formation in Wyoming, USA

Devils Tower is a butte, possibly laccolithic, composed of igneous rock in the Bear Lodge Ranger District of the Black Hills, near Hulett and Sundance in Crook County, northeastern Wyoming, above the Belle Fourche River. It rises 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River, standing 867 feet from summit to base. The summit is 5,112 feet above sea level.


Supt. Frank "Boss" Pinkley - the southwestern national monuments, 1934 Boss Pinkley 1934.jpg
Supt. Frank "Boss" Pinkley – the southwestern national monuments, 1934

The Antiquities Act of 1906 resulted from concerns about protecting mostly prehistoric Native American ruins and artifacts (collectively termed "antiquities") on federal lands in the American West.[ citation needed ] The Act authorized permits for legitimate archaeological investigations and penalties for taking or destroying antiquities without permission. Additionally, it authorized the president to proclaim "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest" on federal lands as national monuments, "the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected." [2]

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii and territories of the United States. More than 570 federally recognized tribes live within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaskan Natives, while "Native Americans" are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. The US Census does not include Native Hawaiians or Chamorro, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

The reference in the act to "objects of...scientific interest" enabled President Theodore Roosevelt to make a natural geological feature, Devils Tower in Wyoming, the first national monument three months later. [3] Among the next three monuments he proclaimed in 1906 was Petrified Forest in Arizona, another natural feature.

Geology The study of the composition, structure, physical properties, and history of Earths components, and the processes by which they are shaped.

Geology is an earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Geology can also include the study of the solid features of any terrestrial planet or natural satellite such as Mars or the Moon. Modern geology significantly overlaps all other earth sciences, including hydrology and the atmospheric sciences, and so is treated as one major aspect of integrated earth system science and planetary science.

Wyoming U.S. state in the United States

Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The state is the 10th largest by area, the least populous, and the second most sparsely populated state in the country. Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, and on the west by Idaho and Montana. The state population was estimated at 577,737 in 2018, which is less than 31 of the most populous U.S. cities including Denver in neighboring Colorado. Cheyenne is the state capital and the most populous city, with an estimated population of 63,624 in 2017.

Petrified Forest National Park national park of the United States

Petrified Forest National Park is an American national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, the fee (chargeable) area of the park covers about 230 square miles, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands. The park's headquarters is about 26 miles (42 km) east of Holbrook along Interstate 40 (I-40), which parallels the BNSF Railway's Southern Transcon, the Puerco River, and historic U.S. Route 66, all crossing the park roughly east–west. The site, the northern part of which extends into the Painted Desert, was declared a national monument in 1906 and a national park in 1962. The park received 644,922 recreational visitors in 2018. Typical visitor activities include sightseeing, photography, hiking, and backpacking.

In 1908, Roosevelt used the act to proclaim more than 800,000 acre s (3,200 km2) of the Grand Canyon as a national monument.

Acre Unit of area

The acre is a unit of land area used in the imperial and US customary systems. It is traditionally defined as the area of one chain by one furlong, which is exactly equal to 10 square chains, ​1640 of a square mile, or 43,560 square feet, and approximately 4,047 m2, or about 40% of a hectare. Based upon the International yard and pound agreement of 1959, an acre may be declared as exactly 4,046.8564224 square metres. The acre is a statute measure in the United States and was formerly one in the United Kingdom and almost all countries of the former British Empire, although informal use continues.

Grand Canyon A steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States

The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile.

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Katmai National Monument in Alaska, comprising more than 1,000,000 acre s (4,000 km2). Katmai was later enlarged to nearly 2,800,000 acre s (11,000 km2) by subsequent Antiquities Act proclamations and for many years was the largest national park system unit. Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, and Great Sand Dunes were also originally proclaimed as national monuments and later designated as national parks by Congress. [4] [5] [6]

In response to Roosevelt's declaration of the Grand Canyon monument, a putative mining claimant sued in federal court, claiming that Roosevelt had overstepped the Antiquities Act authority by protecting an entire canyon. In 1920, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Grand Canyon was indeed "an object of historic or scientific interest" and could be protected by proclamation, setting a precedent for the use of the Antiquities Act to preserve large areas. [7] Federal courts have since rejected every challenge to the president's use of Antiquities Act preservation authority, ruling that the law gives the president exclusive discretion over the determination of the size and nature of the objects protected.

Substantial opposition did not materialize until 1943, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Jackson Hole National Monument in Wyoming. He did this to accept a donation of lands acquired by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., for addition to Grand Teton National Park after Congress had declined to authorize this park expansion. Roosevelt's proclamation unleashed a storm of criticism about use of the Antiquities Act to circumvent Congress. A bill abolishing Jackson Hole National Monument passed Congress but was vetoed by Roosevelt, and Congressional and court challenges to the proclamation authority were mounted. In 1950, Congress finally incorporated most of the monument into Grand Teton National Park, but the act doing so barred further use of the proclamation authority in Wyoming except for areas of 5,000 acres or less.

The most substantial use of the proclamation authority came in 1978, when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed 15 new national monuments in Alaska after Congress had adjourned without passing a major Alaska lands bill strongly opposed in that state. Congress passed a revised version of the bill in 1980 incorporating most of these national monuments into national parks and preserves, but the act also curtailed further use of the proclamation authority in Alaska.

The proclamation authority was not used again anywhere until 1996, when President Bill Clinton proclaimed the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. This action was widely unpopular in Utah, [8] and bills were introduced to further restrict the president's authority. [9] , none of which have been enacted. Most of the 16 national monuments created by President Clinton are managed not by the National Park Service, but by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Landscape Conservation System.[ citation needed ]

Presidents have used the Antiquities Act's proclamation authority not only to create new national monuments but to enlarge existing ones. For example, Franklin D. Roosevelt significantly enlarged Dinosaur National Monument in 1938. Lyndon B. Johnson added Ellis Island to Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965, and Jimmy Carter made major additions to Glacier Bay and Katmai National Monuments in 1978. [10]

On June 24, 2016, President Barack Obama designated the Stonewall Inn and surrounding areas in Greenwich Village, New York as the Stonewall National Monument, the first national monument commemorating the struggle for LGBT rights in the United States. [11]

  1. See the Antiquities Act article for exceptions.

List of national monuments

See also

Related Research Articles

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument national monument in Kane and Garfield counties in Utah, United States

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is a United States national monument that originally designated 1,880,461 acres (7,610 km2) of protected land in southern Utah in 1996. The monument's size was later reduced by a succeeding presidential proclamation in 2017. The land is among the most remote in the country; it was the last to be mapped in the contiguous United States.

Katmai National Park and Preserve United States National Park and Preserve in southern Alaska

Katmai National Park and Preserve is an American national park and preserve in southern Alaska, notable for the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and for its brown bears. The park and preserve encompass 4,093,077 acres, which is between the sizes of Connecticut and New Jersey. Most of the national park is a designated wilderness area where all hunting is banned. The park is named after Mount Katmai, its centerpiece stratovolcano. The park is located on the Alaska Peninsula, across from Kodiak Island, with headquarters in nearby King Salmon, about 290 miles (470 km) southwest of Anchorage. The area was first designated a national monument in 1918 to protect the area around the major 1912 volcanic eruption of Novarupta, which formed the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a 40-square-mile (100 km2), 100-to-700-foot-deep pyroclastic flow. The park includes as many as 18 individual volcanoes, seven of which have been active since 1900.

Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve Region of Alaska

Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve is a U.S. National Monument and National Preserve, consisting of the region around the Aniakchak volcano on the Aleutian Range of south-western Alaska. The 601,294-acre (243,335 ha) monument is one of the least-visited places in the National Park System due to its remote location and difficult weather. The area was proclaimed a National Monument on December 1, 1978, and established as a National Monument and Preserve on December 2, 1980. The National Monument encompasses 137,176 acres (55,513 ha) and the preserve 464,118 acres (187,822 ha). Visitation to Aniakchak is the lowest of all areas of the U.S. National Park System, according to the NPS, with only 100 documented recreational visits in 2017. Most visitors fly into Surprise Lake inside Aniakchak Crater, but the frequent fog and other adverse weather conditions make landing in the lake difficult. It is also possible to fly into the nearby village of Port Heiden and proceed overland to the Aniakchak Crater.

Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act United States law establishing protected areas in Alaska

The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) is a United States federal law passed on November 12, 1980, by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on December 2 of that year. ANILCA provided varying degrees of special protection to over 157,000,000 acres of land, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, national monuments, wild and scenic rivers, recreational areas, national forests, and conservation areas. It was, and remains to date, the single largest expansion of protected lands in history and more than doubled the size of the National Park System.

Jackson Hole National Monument was a wildlife reserve in Jackson Hole, most of which is now a part of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, United States. It was created by executive order by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1943, and met with considerable opposition from Wyoming legislators. Roosevelt later vetoed a bill that would have disestablished it. Jackson Hole is named after a fur trapper named Davey Jackson.

The Wilderness Society (United States) non-profit organisation in the USA

The Wilderness Society is an American non-profit land conservation organization that is dedicated to protecting natural areas and federal public lands in the United States. They advocate for the designation of federal wilderness areas and other protective designations, such as for national monuments. They support balanced uses of public lands, and advocate for federal politicians to enact various land conservation and balanced land use proposals. The Wilderness Society also engages in a number of ancillary activities, including education and outreach, and hosts one of the most valuable collections of Ansel Adams photographs at their headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Escalante National Monument was proposed by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes in the 1930s as a unit of the U.S. National Park Service in the canyonlands of south central Utah. Centering on the canyons of the Escalante River, the proposed monument encompassed portions of present-day Canyonlands and Capitol Reef national parks, Natural Bridges and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The proposed national monument was to encompass about 4,500,000 acres (1,800,000 ha). The Second World War interrupted Ickes initiative, which had encountered resistance from Utah politicians.

Midnight forests was a nickname given to the forests created by President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt near the end of his term as president.

History of the National Park Service aspect of history

Since 1872 the United States National Park System has grown from a single, public reservation called Yellowstone National Park to include 418 natural, historical, recreational, and cultural areas throughout the United States, its territories, and island possessions. These areas include National Parks, National Monuments, National Memorials, National Military Parks, National Historic Sites, National Parkways, National Recreation Areas, National Seashores, National Scenic Riverways, and National Scenic Trails.

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument was a U.S. National Monument honoring events, people, and sites of the Pacific Theater engagement of the United States during World War II. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed into law March 12, 2019, abolished the National Monument, replacing it with Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Aleutian Islands World War II National Monument, and Tule Lake National Monument.

Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act

The Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act would amend the Antiquities Act of 1906 to subject national monument declarations by the President to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). At present, the President of the United States can unilaterally declare something a national monument, whereas the United States Congress is required to follow a more rigorous series of procedures to gather input from the public. When something is called a "National Monument," that means no action from Congress was required, while something designated a "National Park" did require Congressional action. In addition to limiting the number of national monument declarations the president could make, the bill would forbid the government from declaring land belonging to a private owner as a national monument without the private owner's consent.

Browns Canyon National Monument

Browns Canyon National Monument is a 21,586 acres national monument in Chaffee County, Colorado that was designated as such by President Barack Obama under the Antiquities Act on February 19, 2015. The site will be centered along the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida. Browns Canyon is the most popular destination for whitewater rafting in the country, and is also known for its fishing and hiking. The monument will provide habitat protection for bighorn sheep, peregrine falcons, elk, and golden eagles.

Bears Ears National Monument Protected area in Utah

Bears Ears National Monument is a United States national monument located in San Juan County in southeastern Utah, established by President Barack Obama by presidential proclamation on December 28, 2016. The monument's original size was 1,351,849 acres, which was controversially reduced 85% by President Donald Trump on December 4, 2017. The monument protects the public land surrounding the Bears Ears—a pair of buttes—and the Indian Creek corridor rock climbing area. The Native American names for the buttes have the same meaning in each of the languages represented in the region. The names are listed in the presidential proclamation as "Hoon’Naqvut, Shash Jáa [sic], Kwiyagatu Nukavachi, Ansh An Lashokdiwe"—all four mean "Bears Ears".

Grand Canyon National Park Act of 1919

Grand Canyon National Park Act of 1919 is a United States statute establishing Grand Canyon National Park in the state of Arizona. The Act of Congress describes geographic metes and bounds relative to the tract of land designating the Grand Canyon Park. The public law authorizes provisions for agricultural purposes, mineral prospecting rights, irrigation projects, and railroad easements. The Act provides restrictions for building on private land, game preserve exclusion, and rescinding the Grand Canyon National Monument as created by Presidential Proclamation 794 in 1908.

Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association v. Ross is a United States District Court case in the District of Columbia in which the court determined whether or not a President may establish a marine national monument, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906. The case represents the first time that the President’s authority to create an offshore marine monument under the Act was directly challenged in court. While the District Court upheld the President’s authority to designate the monument under the authority bestowed by the Antiquities Act, the case was appealed to the D.C. Circuit and awaits further judicial review.


  1. Glimpses of Our National Monuments. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1930. Archived from the original on November 22, 2012.
  2. "American Antiquities Act". National Park Service. Archived from the original on October 11, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  3. "Devils Tower First 50 Years" (PDF). National Park Service. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  4. "PUBLIC LAW 85-358-MAR. 28, 1958" (PDF). Government Printing Office. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 13, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  5. "Records of the NPS". Archived from the original on October 16, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  6. "Antiquities Act 1906–2006: Maps, facts and figures" (archive). National Park Service. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  7. Cameron v. United States Archived March 30, 2014, at the Wayback Machine , 252 U.S. 450 (1920)
  8. Wieber, Audrey (October 12, 2014). "Locals Bitter Over Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Creation". Twin Falls Times-News. Archived from the original on August 26, 2015. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
  9. Lewis, Neil A. (October 8, 1997). "House Tweaks Clinton Over Creation of National Monuments". New York Times. Archived from the original on July 20, 2015. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
  10. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (N.M.), Resource Management Plan: Environmental Impact Statement. January 1, 2009. Archived from the original on December 6, 2017.
  11. "President Obama Designates Stonewall National Monument" Archived June 24, 2016, at the Wayback Machine (Official announcement from White House Press Office; June 24, 2016)