Facts And Figures On National Monuments In And Out Of The National Park System

The newly designated Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio. NPS photo.

With President Obama's recent designation of five new national monuments, there now are 77 national monuments within the National Park System. Curious about the history of national monuments? Read on.

The following information was compiled by Frank Buono, a long-time National Park Service employee now retired from the agency but still involved in watching what goes on in the parks and other public lands.

How many national monuments are there?

According to the 2005-2007 Official Index of the National Park Service, there were 73 areas of the National Park System officially titled “national monuments.” In 2008, Congress converted a national monument in Idaho (“Minidoka Internment”) to a national historic site, making 72 national monuments.

Since then President George W. Bush declared national monument No. 73 in New York (“African American Burial Ground”), and President Obama declared national monument No. 74 in Virginia (“Fort Monroe”) and No. 75 in California (“Cesar Chavez”).

In January 2013, Congress converted Pinnacles National Monument into a national park. Thus, as of January 3, 2013, there were 74 national monuments.

But then in March 2013, President Obama declared three new national monuments to be administered by the NPS. They are “The First State National Monument” in Delaware, the “Buffalo Soldier National Monument” in Ohio and the “Underground Railroad National Monument” in Maryland. This action brought the number of national monuments in the park system to 77.

How many national monuments were created directly by Congress?

Of the 77 extant national monuments, 25 national monuments were created by acts of Congress, rather than a presidential proclamation. They are, arranged by state:

Hohokam Pima NM (AZ)

Florissant Fossil Beds NM (CO)

Fort Frederica NM (GA)

Ocmulgee NM (GA)

Hagerman Fossil Beds NM (ID)

Poverty Point NM (LA)

Fort McHenry NM (MD)

Grand Portage NM (MN)

Pipestone NM (MN)

George Washington Carver NM (MI)

Little Bighorn Battlefield NM (MT)

Agate Fossil Beds NM (NE)

Homestead NM of America (NE)

El Malpais NM (NM)

Fort Union NM (NM)

Petroglyph NM (NM)

Salinas Pueblo Mission ((NM)

Castle Clinton NM (NY)

Fort Stanwix NM (NY)

John Day Fossil Beds NM (OR)

Fort Sumter NM (SC)

Alibates Flint Quarries NM (TX)

Booker T. Washington NM (VA)

George Washington Birthplace NM (VA)

Fossil Butte NM (WY)

Thus, 52 of the 77 extant NPS national monuments exist today solely as a result of a presidential proclamation.

What monuments have been abolished?

Congress abolished several national monuments created by presidential proclamations.

Three of the 15 national monuments transferred from the Forest Service to the National Park Service in 1933 (Executive Order 6166, June 10, 1933) - Holy Cross (CO), Old Kassan (AK) and Wheeler (CO) – were later abolished. The monuments were abolished by Congress in 1950, 1955, and 1950 respectively, and the lands encompassed in them reverted to Forest Service administration.

The War Department administered ten national monuments established by proclamation: Big Hole Battlefield, Cabrillo, Castle Pinckney, Father Millet Cross, Fort Marion, Fort Matanzas, Fort Pulaski, Meriwether Lewis, Mound City Group and the Statue of Liberty National Monuments. The monuments were transferred to the Department of the Interior by Executive Order (EO) No. 6166, referenced above. Because of some doubt as to the meaning of EO No. 6166, President Roosevelt issued EO 6228 on July 28, 1933, specifically listing War Department properties, including national monuments that were to be transferred to the National Park Service. Of these ten, Father Millet Cross National Monument was delisted in 1949. Castle Pinckney National Monument was deauthorized in 1956. Meriwether Lewis National Monument became part of Natchez Trace National Parkway. Congress renamed Fort Marion "Castillo de San Marcos National Monument" in 1942.

Presidential proclamations created five other monuments that no longer exist and whose lands are not now administered by the NPS. The monuments were given over to the NPS at their origin and were administered by the NPS until their demise. The monuments and the year of abolition were: Fossil Cycad (SD) (1956), Lewis and Clark Cavern (MT) (1937), Papago Saguaro (AZ) (1930), Shoshone Cavern (MT) (1954) and Verendrye (MN) (1956).

How many national monuments were abolished and their lands incorporated into a new NPS area, created by Congressional act?

Over time, Congress abolished 49 national monuments by incorporating their land into national parks, national historical parks, national preserves or other units. The count includes the 13 monuments declared by Jimmy Carter in 1978 in Alaska. The following lists these abolitions in order of the year Congress abolished the monument.

* The two Forest Service-administered Cinder Cone and Lassen Peak national monuments were transferred to the NPS when Congress incorporated the monuments' lands into Lassen Volcanic National Park in 1916.

* Congress abolished the 1916 Sieur de Monts National Monument and incorporated it into the Lafayette National Park in 1919, later renamed Acadia National Park.

* The Forest Service-administered Grand Canyon National Monument was incorporated into the Grand Canyon National Park in 1919.

* The Forest Service-administered Munkutuweap National Monument was abolished and renamed Zion National Monument and transferred to the NPS in 1918; Congress incorporated the monument into Zion National Park in 1919.

* The Forest Service-administered Bryce Canyon National Monument was incorporated into Bryce Canyon National Park in 1928.

* Congress abolished the 1923 Carlsbad Caverns National Monument and incorporated it into the Carlsbad Caverns National Park in 1930.

* Congress transferred the Forest Service-administered Mount Olympus National Monument to the NPS, abolished it, and incorporated it as part of Olympic National Park in 1938.

* Congress abolished the 1943 Jackson Hole National Monument and incorporated it into Grand Teton National Park in 1950.

* Congress abolished the 1938 Fort Laramie National Monument and incorporated it into Fort Laramie National Historic Site in 1960.

* Congress abolished the 1906 Petrified Forest National Monument and incorporated it into Petrified Forest National Park in 1962.

* Congress abolished the 1929 Badlands National Monument and incorporated it into Badlands National Park in 1968.

* Congress abolished the 1929 Arches National Monument and incorporated it into Arches National Park in 1971.

* Congress abolished the 1937 Capitol Reef National Monument and incorporated it into Capitol Reef National Park in 1971.

* Congress abolished 1961 Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Monument and incorporated it into C&O Canal National Historical Park in 1971.

* Another abolished monument has a more curious history. Proclaimed in 1939, the Santa Rosa Island National Monument in Florida was abolished by Congress in 1946. These lands are now part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, established by Congress in 1972.

* Congress abolished the 1932 Grand Canyon National Monument and 1969 Marble Canyon National Monument by incorporating these two into an expanded Grand Canyon National Park in 1975

* Congress abolished the 1918 Katmai National Monument and incorporated it into Katmai National Park in 1980 (ANILCA).

* Congress abolished the 1925 Glacier Bay National Monument and incorporated it into Glacier Bay National Park in 1980 (ANILCA)

* Congress abolished 13 of the 13 national monuments proclaimed by President Jimmy Carter in Alaska in 1978 and established these areas as national parks, preserves, or monuments by congressional charter in 1980 (ANILCA). These are: Bering Land Bridge, Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, Noatak, Wrangell-St. Elias, Yukon-Charley. Congress repealed the proclamations but kept the “national monument” title for Aniakchak and Cape Krusenstern.

* Congress abolished the 1938 Channel Islands National Monument and incorporated it into Channel Islands NP in 1980.

* Congress abolished the 1968 Biscayne National Monument and incorporated it into the Biscayne National Park in 1980. (One of three examples of a congressionally-created national monument that was subsequently abolished by incorporation into a larger and renamed unit).

* Congress abolished the 1907 Chaco Canyon National Monument and incorporated it into Chaco Culture National Historical Park in 1980.

* Congress abolished the 1922 Lehman Caves National Monument and incorporated it into Great Basin National Park in 1986.

* Congress abolished the 1907 Gran Quivira National Monument and incorporated it into the congressionally-designated Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in 1988.

* Congress abolished the 1976 Congaree Swamp National Monument and incorporated it into the Congaree Swamp National Park in 1988. (Second of three examples of a congressionally-created national monument that was subsequently abolished by incorporation into a larger and renamed unit).

* Congress abolished the 1965 Pecos National Monument and incorporated it into Pecos National Historical Park in 1990. (Third of three examples of a congressionally-created national monument that was subsequently abolished by incorporation into a larger and renamed unit).

* Congress abolished the 1908 Tumacacori National Monument (administered by DOI – General Land Office) and transferred to NPS (unknown date) when it created Tumacacori National Historical Park in 1990.

* Congress abolished the 1935 Fort Jefferson National Monument and incorporated it into Dry Tortugas National Park in 1992.

* Congress abolished the 1933 Saguaro National Monument and incorporated it into Saguaro National Park in 1994.

* Congress abolished the 1933 Death Valley National Monument and incorporated it into Death Valley National Park in 1994.

* Congress abolished the 1936 Joshua Tree National Monument and incorporated it into the Joshua Tree National Park in 1994.

* Congress abolished the 1933 Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument and incorporated it into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in 1999.

* Congress abolished the 1932 Great Sand Dunes National Monument and incorporated it into Great Sand Dunes National Park in 2000.

* Congress renamed the 2002 addition of 410,000 acres to Craters of the Moon National Monument as Craters of the Moon National Preserve in 2002. No net gain or loss of number of units that are NPS “national monuments” because the original Craters of the Moon National Monument (proclaimed 1924) remained untouched.

* Congress abolished the 2001 Minidoka Internment National Monument and converted it to Minidoka National Historic Site in 2008.

* Congress abolished the 1908 Pinnacles National Monument and designated it a national park in 2013.

How many national monuments were transferred to the NPS from the Forest Service?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt transferred 15 national monuments, all created by presidential proclamation, from the Forest Service to the NPS in 1933. Three were later abolished. The transferred national forest monuments are:

* Chiricahua (AZ)

* Devils Post Pile (CA)

* Gila Cliff Dwellings (NM)

* Jewel Cave( SD)

* Lava Beds (CA)

* Lehman Caves (NV)

* Oregon Caves (OR)

* Saguaro (AZ)

* Sunset Crater (AZ)

* Timpanogos Cave (UT)

* Tonto (AZ)

* Walnut Canyon (AZ)

[The three transferred and later abolished monuments are: Holy Cross (CO), Old Kassan (AK) and Wheeler (CO)]

How many monuments are administered by the Bureau of Land Management?

The BLM administers 18 “national monuments,” with over 5 million acres of public lands. All except one (Prehistoric Trackways) were established by presidential proclamation. The BLM monuments are:

* Agua Fria (AZ)

* Grand Canyon-Parashant (AZ) (overlaps some lands in Lake Mead NRA administered by NPS, a dual reservation)

* Ironwood Forest (AZ)

* Vermillion Cliffs (AZ)

* Sonoran Desert (AZ)

* California Coastal (CA)

* Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains (CA)

* Carrizo Plain (CA)

* Canyons of the Ancients (CO)

* Craters of the Moon (ID)

* Pompeys Pillar (MT)

* Upper Missouri River Breaks (MT)

* Tent Rocks (NM)

* Prehistoric Trackways (NM) ((By statute)

* Rio Grande Del Norte (NM) (Obama)

* Cascade-Siskiyou (OR)

* Grand Staircase-Escalante (UT)

* San Juan Islands (WA) (Obama)

All were proclaimed by President Bill Clinton, except for 2, as noted above, by President Obama.

Do any other Federal agencies administer any national monuments?

Yes, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Pacific marine national monuments).

Comments

What would be also helpful is telling us the differences between a National Park, Nat. Monument and Nat. Historical site and all the other somewhat confusing designations? thanks

Appreciate the efforts of Frank Buono to pull this information together!

gutz54: You'll find a very sketchy description of the various types of designations at this link.

As to the national monuments admininstered by the U. S. Forest Service, there are several real gems, including Giant Sequoia National Monument (353,000 acres, designated by President Clinton in 2000), the absolutely spectacular Misty Fiords National Monument in SE Alaska (2.2 million acres) and an interesting variation on the "national monument" title: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

An interesting indication of the rather low emphasis placed on national monuments under USFS administration is found in the lack of much "web presence" for Misty Fiords by the Forest Service. The area gets some token mention on the websites for the Tongass National Forest, but a few minutes on Google failed to turn up a dedicated USFS web page for the monument. Perhaps I just missed it. Some of the best information about that monument was found on this page from wilderness.net.

My experience at Misty Fiords is limited to a six-hour small boat tour a few years ago, and I later wished I'd had six days!

Jim--

At my request, Frank did some additional research and came up with the answer to question #7:

Question #7: What national monuments (including those now abolished or incorporated into national parks) were declared by Republican Presidents?

Bryce – Harding

Carlsbad Caverns – Coolidge and Hoover

Grand Canyon – Roosevelt

Cinder Cones and Lassen Peak – Roosevelt

Mukuntuweap (Zion) – Taft

Colonial (now Colonial NHP) – Hoover

Arches – Hoover

Aztec Ruins – Harding and Coolidge

Big Hole Battlefield – Taft

Black Canyon – Hoover

Castillo de San Marcos – Coolidge

Castle Pinckney – Coolidge

Chaco Canyon – Roosevelt and Coolidge

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal - Eisenhower

Chiricahua – Coolidge

Colorado – Taft and Hoover

Craters of the Moon – Coolidge and Hoover

Death Valley - Hoover

Devil’s Postpile – Taft

Devils Tower – Roosevelt (nation’s first Antiquities Act monument)

El Morro – Roosevelt

Fr. Millet Cross (disestablished) – Coolidge

Ft. Matanzas – Coolidge

Ft. Pulaski – Coolidge

Fossil Cycad (disestablished) Harding

George Washington Birthplace – Hoover

Gila Cliff – Roosevelt

Glacier Bay – Coolidge

Gran Quivira – Raft

Grand Canyon 2 – Hoover

Great Sand Dunes – Hoover

Holy Cross – (disestablished) Hoover

Hovenweep – Harding

Jewel Cave – Roosevelt

Lava Beds – Coolidge

Lehman Caves – Harding

Lewis and Clark (disestablished) – Roosevelt

Meriwether Lewis – Coolidge

Montezuma Castle – Roosevelt

Mound City – Harding

Muir Woods – Roosevelt

Natural Bridges – Roosevelt

Navajo – Taft

Oregon Caves – Taft

Petrified Forest – Roosevelt

Pinnacles – Roosevelt, Harding and Hoover

Pipe Spring – Taft

Rainbow Bridge – Taft

Saguaro – Hoover

Shoshone Caverns (disestablished) Taft

Sitka – Taft

Statue of Liberty – Coolidge

Sunset Crater – Hoover

Timpanogos Cave – Harding

Tonto – Roosevelt

Tumacacori – Roosevelt

White Sands – Hoover

Wupatki – Coolidge

Every Republican President since 1906 has declared an Antiquities Act national monument except for: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Rick and Frank -

Very interesting! Thanks for this perspective.