Friday, February 26, 2010

National Monuments

If you watched the PBS Ken Burns documentary about the National Parks you know that presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to George W. Bush have used the Antiquities Act to create National Monuments on land already owned or controlled by the U. S. Government. The purpose of the act was to protect "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest" and has been used many times by presidents to create and enlarge National Monuments. Some times after a president had used the Antiquities Act to create a National Monument Congress has acted to name it a National Park.

Today there are 100 National Monuments the vast majority of which are administered by the National Park Service; but others are administered wholly or partly by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U. S. Forest Service, the Armed Services Retirement Home, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, not all National Monuments created by Congress are administered and operated by the Federal Government. Hohokam Pima NM is owned and operated by the Gila Indian Community, and the Poverty Point State LA is owned and operated by the Louisiana Office of State Parks.

Interestingly, of the 100 National Monuments that exist today only 71 were created by a president using the Antiquities Act, the other 29 were created by an Act of Congress. Typically, those created by an act of Congress were on private land that had to be purchased by the government or more often by private individuals who donated the land to the government after purchase.

The oldest to be created by an act of Congress is George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Virginia which was authorized January 23, 1930. The next four created by an act of Congress were all over the map: Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, Ocmulgee in Georgia, Fort Stanwix in the state of New York, and Homestead in Nebraska.

These five and most of the other National Monuments created by acts of Congress had long and difficult journeys involving many local people, Congressmen, and Senators before the legislation was passed. The story of the creation of Homestead National Monument of America is typical.

Below is a list of the 29 National Monuments that were created by an act of Congress:

National Monument
Agency
Date of Enabling Legislation

George Washington Birthplace



Jan 1930
National Park Service [NPS]

Canyon de Chelly



Feb 1931
NPS

Ocmulgee



Jun 1934
NPS

Fort Stanwix



Aug 1935
NPS

Homestead



Mar 1936
NPS

Fort Frederica



May 1936
NPS

Pipestone



Aug 1937
NPS

Fort McHenry



Aug 1939
NPS

George Washington Carver




Jul 1943
NPS

Little Bighorn Battlefield


Mar 1946
NPS

Castle Clinton



Aug 1946
NPS

Fort Sumter



Apr 1948
NPS

Fort Union



Jun 1954
NPS

Booker T. Washington



Apr 1956
NPS

Grand Portage



Sep 1958
NPS

Agate Fossil Beds



Jun 1965
NPS

Alibates Flint Quarries



Aug 1965
NPS

Florissant Fossil Beds



Aug 1969
NPS

Hohokam Pima



Oct 1972
NPS

Fossil Butte



Oct 1972
NPS

John Day Fossil Beds



Oct 1974
NPS

El Malpais



Dec 1987
NPS

Poverty Point



Oct 1988
NPS

Hagerman Fossil Beds



Nov 1988
NPS

Petroglyph



Jun 1990
NPS

Newberry Volcanic



Nov 1990
U. S. Forest Service
[USFS]

Mount St. Helens Volcanic



Aug 1982
USFS

Santa Rosa and
San Jacinto Mountains





Oct 2
Bureau of Land Management
[BLM] and USFS
000

Prehistoric Trackways



Mar 2009
BLM

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