A national monument in the
United States 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[a] by proclamation of the
President of the United States.
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
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (in the case of marine
national monuments). Historically, some national monuments were
managed by the War Department.
National monuments can be so designated through the power of the
Antiquities Act of 1906. President
Theodore Roosevelt used the act to
Devils Tower in
Wyoming as the first U.S. national monument.
2 List of national monuments
3 See also
5 External links
Supt. Frank "Boss" Pinkley - the southwestern national monuments, 1934
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."
The reference in the act to "objects of...scientific interest" enabled
Theodore Roosevelt to make a natural geological feature,
Devils Tower in Wyoming, the first national monument three months
later. Among the next three monuments he proclaimed in 1906 was
Petrified Forest in Arizona, another natural feature.
In 1908, Roosevelt used the act to proclaim more than 800,000 acres
(3,200 km2) of the
Grand Canyon as a national monument.
In 1918, President
Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Katmai National Monument
in Alaska, comprising more than 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km2).
Katmai was later enlarged to nearly 2,800,000 acres (11,000 km2)
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.
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. 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
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,
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,
Bill Clinton proclaimed the Grand Staircase-Escalante
National Monument in Utah. This action was widely unpopular in
Utah, and bills were introduced to further restrict the president's
authority., 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
Bureau of Land Management as part of
the National Landscape Conservation System.
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
Lyndon B. Johnson added
Ellis Island to
Statue of Liberty National Monument
Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965, and
Jimmy Carter made
major additions to Glacier Bay and Katmai National Monuments in
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.
^ See the
Antiquities Act article for exceptions.
List of national monuments
Main article: List of National Monuments of the United States
List of U.S. National Forests
List of areas in the
National Park System
National Park System of the United States
(includes list of NPS-managed national monuments)
List of U.S. wilderness areas
Protected areas of the United States
List of proposed National Monuments of the United States
^ Glimpses of Our National Monuments. U.S. Government Printing Office.
1930. Archived from the original on November 22, 2012.
^ "American Antiquities Act". National Park Service. Archived from the
original on October 11, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
Devils Tower First 50 Years" (PDF). National Park Service. Archived
(PDF) from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved October 11,
^ "PUBLIC LAW 85-358-MAR. 28, 1958" (PDF). Government Printing Office.
Archived (PDF) from the original on July 13, 2014. Retrieved October
^ "Records of the NPS". archives.gov. Archived from the original on
October 16, 2014. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
Antiquities Act 1906-2006: Maps, facts and figures" (archive).
nps.gov. National Park Service. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
^ Cameron v.
United States Archived March 30, 2014, at the Wayback
Machine., 252 U.S. 450 (1920)
^ Wieber, Audrey (October 12, 2014). "Locals Bitter Over Grand
Staircase-Escalante National Monument Creation". MagicValley.com. Twin
Falls Times-News. Archived from the original on August 26, 2015.
Retrieved July 11, 2015.
^ 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.
^ 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.
^ "President Obama Designates Stonewall National Monument" Archived
June 24, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. (Official announcement from
White House Press Office; June 24, 2016)
National monument proclamations under the
Antiquities Act (public
Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports regarding national
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