Protecting America's Wild and Beautiful Places

- Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The United States now has five new national monuments!

President Barack Obama used the Antiquities Act, designed to protect unique and historic landmarks, to add special protections to some stunning places from coast to coast.

The sites include some areas you have seen us report on in episodes of “This American Land.”  We have showed you the vibrant region of New Mexico that is now “Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.” This 240,000- acre area will continue to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Visitors can find petroglyphs, bird and other wildlife habitat, and archeological sites. The area around Ute mountain in northern New Mexico includes habitat for elk, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and great horned owls. 

The other locations include First State National Monument in Delaware. This encompasses about 1,100 acres near Wilmington. Vice President Joe Biden, former senator from Delaware, has been a longtime supporter. 

The other new monuments are the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland; and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state. 

Also designated is the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument near Xenia, Ohio. It celebrates the work of Col. Charles Young, a West Point graduate and the first African American national park superintendent. He was also the highest -ranking African American officer in the U.S. Army until his death in 1922.  

The president took the executive action after Congress failed to act on bills that would protect and preserve these natural resources. According to the Congressional Research Service, “The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to create national monuments on federal lands that contain historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest.”  U.S. presidents have proclaimed about 130 monuments.

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