Gerald W. Williams, Ph.D.
USDA Forest Service
Washington, DC
November 18, 2003

National monuments are areas of federal land set aside by the Congress or most often by the president, under authority of the American Antiquities Act of June 8, 1906, to protect or enhance prominent or important features of the national landscape. Such important national features include those land areas that have historic cultural importance (sites and landmarks), prehistoric prominence, or those of scientific or ecological significance. Today, depending on how one counts, there are 81 national monuments administered by the USDI National Park Service, 13 more administered by the USDI Bureau of Land Management (BLM), five others administered by the USDA Forest Service, two jointly managed by the BLM and the National Park Service, one jointly administered by the BLM and the Forest Service, one by the USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, and another by the Soldiers' and Airmen's Home in Washington, D.C. In addition, one national monument is under National Park Service jurisdiction, but managed by the Forest Service while another is on USDI Bureau of Reclamation administered land, but managed by the Park Service. The story of the national monuments and the Forest Service also needs to cover briefly the creation of national parks from national forest and BLM lands. More new national monuments and national parks are under consideration for establishment.


Shortly after the turn of the century, many citizens' groups and organizations, as well as members of Congress, believed it was necessary that an act of Congress be passed to combat the increasing acts of vandalism and even destruction of important cultural (historic and prehistoric), scenic, physical, animal, and plant areas around the country (Rothman 1989). Dan Zaslowsky noted that by the 1830s, Americans

had generally left their most scenic areas in a shambles. Niagra Falls had been recognized as the nation's greatest natural spectacle, but by the 1839s its cliffs were combed by rogues and unscrupulous operators, who laid claim to the best overlooks and then charged the tourists exorbitantly for the view. Fly-by-night enterprise cluttered the area, turning the place into a cheap circus. The setting had become so tawdry that when Alexis de Tocqueville visited Niagra Falls in 1831, he urged an American friend to "hasten" to see the place before all its grandeur was lost. Delay, Tocqueville warned, would mean that "your Niagra will have been spoiled for you. Already the forest around about [the falls] is being cleared. I don't give the Americans ten years to establish a saw or flour mill at the base of the cataract" (Zaslowsky and the Wilderness Society 1986: 13).

Efforts over the last part of the 1800s to resolve the vandalism problem went unheeded, as many of the unique places were on federal land that had no management or even a custodian to watch over the sites. Despite the fact that the first national park was established at Yellowstone in 1872, smaller, unique areas continued to languish. Park Service historian Barry Mackintosh noted that:

While the early national parks were being established [the first at Yellowstone in 1872], a separate movement arose to protect the prehistoric cliff dwellings, pueblo ruins, and early missions found by cowboys, army officers, ethnologists, and other explorers on the vast public lands of the Southwest. Efforts to secure protective legislation began among historically minded scientists and civic leaders in Boston and spread to similar circles in other cities during the 1880s and 1890s. Congress took a first step in this direction in 1889 by authorizing the president to reserve from settlement or sale of the land in Arizona containing the massive Casa Grande ruin. President Benjamin Harrison ordered the Casa Grande Reservation three years later (Mackintosh 2000: 5).

After the turn of the century, Congress was convinced to look at the vandalism/protection problems on the public lands, especially those that contained significant American Indian ruins. "In 1904, at the request of the Interior Department's General Land Office, archeologist Edgar Lee Hewett reviewed prehistoric features on federal lands in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah and recommended specific sites for protection. The following year he drafted general legislation for the purpose (Mackintosh 2000: 5)." By 1906, there was enough support for action that legislation was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Roosevelt. Historian Lawrence Rakestraw described those who led the fight for passage of the Antiquities Act of 1906: "The Antiquities Act was largely the work of Representative John F. Lacey of Iowa [chief proponent of the Lacey Act of 1900 that was designed to protect wildlife on federal lands], who worked closely with Land Office Commissioner W. A. Richards and with Edgar I. [Lee] Hewett of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology (Rakestraw 1983: 461)."

The Antiquities Act established penalties for destroying, injuring, or excavating any historic or prehistoric ruin of object of antiquity located on federal lands and authorized the president to set aside by proclamation national monuments and to accept gifts of land (see the entire act following the references section of this paper). Section 2 of the Antiquities Act authorized the president "to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments..."

The objects of "scientific interest" have, over the years, been broadly interpreted to include elk protection in the Olympic Mountains of Washington State, geological features found near Yellowstone National Park, and glaciers in Alaska, while those places of "historic interest" include sites such as the birthplace of George Washington, cliff dwellings in Arizona and New Mexico, and military forts in many states. The government lands in question are those administered by the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and War (now called the Defense Department).

The act also allows for "permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, and the gathering of objects of antiquity..." in these declared national monuments. However, these permits are allowed only for "the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the gatherings shall be made for permanent preservation in public museums."

The initial national monuments (NM) were located in Rocky Mountains and the Southwest. The first national monument—Devils Tower in eastern Wyoming—was established by President Theodore Roosevelt on September 24, 1906. The unique feature was described as "a great fluted, almost perpendicular shaft of volcanic basalt pushing 865 feet above the surrounding terrain (Ise 1961: 156)." Less than two months later, the president proclaimed three more national monuments—Petrified Forest and Montezuma Castle, both located in Arizona, and El Morro (Inscription Rock) in New Mexico on December 8, 1906. Historian John Ise described the situation at the three new NMs:

The Petrified Forest had attracted a great deal of attention for years because of gross vandalism...[Representative] Lacey was particularly interested in the preservation of the petrified wood; he knew that it was being hauled away by the wagonload, that vandals were even blowing up the trees to get at the most beautiful mineral formations...Administration of this monument was difficult at first because the Santa Fe Railroad owned half of the land, in alternate sections. The government was later able to make exchanges for the railroad lands...Montezuma Caste is an impressive five-story cliff palace, one of the best preserved [Indian sites], high up in the face of a cliff...El Morro is a high cliff, "Inscription Rock," on which are carved prehistoric petroglyphs and hundreds of inscriptions of early Spanish explorers and early American emigrants and settlers. Among them is the inscription of Don Juan de Onate, made in 1605—fifteen years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock (Ise 1961: 156).

Before President Theodore Roosevelt left office in early March of 1909, he had managed to proclaim 18 national monuments under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906. Management of the new national monuments was problematic. Protection of the resources that prompted the establishment of the national monuments was of primary concern, but some of the proclamations "did not prohibit forestry or other uses, but no destruction was permitted, and the monument use was declared the dominant use (Ise 1961: 157)."

The new national monuments were not generally objected to by the public—it was only later that additional monuments would be much larger or as some western opponents were to argue "large enough to interfere with the material progress of the West (Runte 1987: 72)." One of these larger national monuments was established in 1908 (the 800,000-acre Grand Canyon NM) and another in 1909 (the 600,000-acre Mount Olympus NM). In 1910, President Taft used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish the Sitka NM in Alaska. The new monument was the site of numerous Tlingit artifacts and ancient relics. Later in Alaska, "the village of Old Kasaan was another obvious candidate for national monument designation. Although Old Kasaan [on the Tongass National Forest] was designated a monument in 1916, much of what had made it qualify for such recognition had been burned the summer before (Zaslowsky and the Wilderness Society 1986: 259)." Old Kasaan NM was later abolished.


Many of the national monuments resemble their close cousins—the national parks—but differ in that monuments are established by the president while parks are established by Congress. The national monuments also differ from their other cousins—the national forests—that are managed for multiple uses. Gifford Pinchot after the act passed quickly issued orders to the forest supervisors and rangers to report on areas that could potentially be classified as monuments. The Washington office, under chief inspector Frederick E. Olmstead, reviewed the potential areas and made a series of positive recommendations.

Through 1910, 23 national monuments had been established. Many of the new national monuments contained areas for the protection of "elk, cactus, cliff dwellings, missions, totem poles, fur trading posts, and geological formations (Rakestraw 1983: 461)." The national monuments were managed by the agency that administered the land. Thus, for example, the Mt. Olympus National Monument (carved from the heart of the Olympic National Forest) and the Grand Canyon National Monument (from the Grand Canyon National Forest) were managed by the USDA Forest Service.

Differences in the management directions given to the various agencies often made administration of the monuments difficult (Rothman 1989a & 1989b). Sometimes the differences flared, as described by John Ise in the establishment and operation of the Devils Postpile area:

In July [1911] the Devils Postpile, in the Sierra, which commercial interests had managed to have eliminated from Yosemite [National] Park in 1905, was proclaimed a national monument. While it was under control of the Forest Service [previous to 1911], an application had been filed for permission to blast the basaltic columns into the San Joaquin River to dam it for mining operations, but this was denied by the District Forest Service Engineer; and to make it safe from spoliation [President] Taft had made it a national monument, still under control of the Forest Service. In the proclamation he was obliged to state that the forest uses of the land should not be impaired (Ise 1961: 159).

Forest Service Chief Ferdinand Silcox in 1936 discussed the differing ideas behind the national forests and the national monuments/national parks:

The physical characteristics of national parks and national forests are in many ways similar. Both embrace interesting and sometimes unique geological and organic examples of the operation and effect of natural laws, possessing high inspirational, educational, and recreational values. The basic differences relate to the form of administration through which the American people can derive from a given area the maximum social and economic benefits.

Sometimes the intrinsic values involved justify maintaining the area inviolate as a permanent "museum" piece deserving of national concern, and demand its administration exclusively as a source of scientific knowledge, education, inspiration, and recreation. In other cases the best public interest may require that the area be so managed as to derive from it a coordinated series of benefits and uses, proper balance being maintained between the intangible services of scientific, spiritual, and recreational character and the tangible service to industry, commerce, and the general economy. A national-park status may be given to "museum" areas, but not to areas where the principles of management most in the public interest are incompatible with those necessary for national parks truly meriting the name.

Unsettled question of boundary adjustments between national parks and national forests therefore find their origin in economic rather than administrative circumstances, and should be determined accordingly... (as quoted in Dana 1956: 268-269).


Interestingly, the Forest Service under Chief Foresters Gifford Pinchot and Henry Graves opposed the creation of a new agency to administer the national parks and most of the national monuments. In fact, as early as 1904 Pinchot wanted to have jurisdiction of the national parks passed to the Forest Service, since the lands were so similar. This attempt at control of the national parks failed to gather many supporters and subsequently failed. Of course, Pinchot's support of damming Hetch-Hetchy Valley in the northern part of Yosemite National Park fed fuel to the fire of the opponents (Dana 1956; Ise 1961; and Rothman 1989; Steen 1976). Historian John Ise noted that "it is possible that a measure of hostility that foresters have sometimes shown toward the national parks was due to the European origin of American forestry principles [where there are few national parks] (Ise 1961: 189)."

After years of trying, the Park Service bill passed both houses of Congress, but in slightly different forms during the summer of 1916. The House version would allow grazing in the parks and monuments, while the Senate version would not. The conference committee kept the grazing provision for all national parks except Yellowstone. Forest Service Chief Henry Graves "insisted that language [in the bill] even hinting that all Forest Service monuments might go to the park service be stricken from the bill (Albright and Schenck 1999: 129)." John Ise found that in the House committee report on the bill:

it was suggested that although the Secretary of Agriculture did not actually agree to the transfer to the Park Service of the national monuments, he recognized that a time would come when the transfer would be made. The House Committee on Public Lands agreed that the transfer should be made immediately or very soon. At the time Horace McFarland was insisting that three departments handling national parks and monuments was an obvious absurdity (Ise 1961: 190).

Stephen T. Mather, soon to be the first director of the new National Parks Service, "had been almost indifferent to the monuments and had told the committee: 'There has been very little done with them; they are simply set aside, presumably, until such time as Congress decides to develop them.' Now...we focus our attention continually on the parks and don't eye any of the Forest Service monuments except those mentioned [Grand Canyon and Mt. Olympus].' He later laughed to us, 'Well, at least, not right now'."

The National Park Service was established in 1916 in the Department of the Interior. The proponents of the new agency, including John Muir—before his death—and the Sierra Club, became outspoken critics of the Forest Service. Late in 1915, just before the National Park Service was created, Stephen Mather, soon to be the Park Service head, invited the Chief of the Forest Service "to discuss the future responsibilities for national monuments (Steen 1976: 118)." Part of the discussion involved the expansion of Sequoia National Park from land contained in the Sierra National Forest. "The Forest Service was not opposed...if it did not take in too much national forest land (Ise 1961: 282)."

Mather also desired to expand the Grand Canyon NM into the neighboring national forests. The Forest Service disagreed, but the expansions went ahead. Chief Forester Henry Graves "was distraught. 'There seems to be continuous trouble over the National Parks.'...He also saw park supporters stepping up the tempo of their campaign after becoming more and more exasperated by Forest Service opposition to new parks (Steen 1976: 119)."

There were continuous efforts by the Park Service, Congress, and citizen groups to have many of the national monuments made into national parks. Over the years, a number of national parks and monuments were "carved" from national forest land and often adjoined each other, as well as several established by donations of private land. Horace Albright commented on that issue:

Sieur de Monts National Monument was proclaimed on July 8, 1916...It was a notable event because it was the first national park area created entirely by private donations (except for tiny Muir Woods in California)...[National monument custodian George] Dorr and I also agreed that...we could try to change the status of the monument to a national park as I was doing with Mukuntuweap in Utah...What's more, bills were introduced in the Congress early in 1918 to make it a national park. On February 26, 1919, President Wilson simultaneously signed bills creating Grand Canyon National Parks and Lafayette National Park...Dorr and I really didn't approve of the name, but we went along with it until I became director of the service in 1929. Then I pushed through the name we had chosen years before, Acadia National Park. Shortly after I visited Mukuntuweap...Senator Reed Smoot of Utah took the first step toward that [national park] status by getting a bill through Congress in March 1918 that changed the name to Zion National Monument (Albright and Schenck 1999: 270-271).

At the same time, America became involved with the World War (sometimes called the "Great War" or the "War to End All Wars," with the World War I name coming after the start of World War II). In April of 1917, the United States declared war on the Axis powers (Germany and her allies). Efforts on the home front were focused on providing wood, wool, and meat from the national forests. On the Mt. Olympus National Monument in Washington, a railroad logging operation was allowed along the northern flank of the monument to access the much needed spruce trees. The spruce lumber was highly desired for aircraft fuselage parts (Williams 1999). There was a similar emphasis placed on the park service to help the war effort:

As the war dragged on into the spring of 1918, pressure from the cattlemen and sheepmen, hunters, and water and power interests became more intense. One particularly nasty attack was contained in a western newspaper editorial, "Soldiers need meat to eat, not wild flowers!" The Interior Department was flooded with all kinds of demands. Slaughter the Yellowstone elk herds. Kill the nearly extinct bison. Allow the organization of hunting parties to enter the parks to shoot wild animals for additional meat. And allow grazing everywhere...Feelings ran strong in the West (Albright and Schenck 1999: 271-272).

After the war, the arguments and counter-arguments continued flying for decades between the Park Service and the Forest Service (Rothman 1989a & 1989b). In essence, there was a fundamental disagreement over management of the national forests and the national parks and monuments. Horace Albright noted these differences:

Although we recognized that this [USDA Forest Service] branch was only ten years older than ours, it had acquired a reputation and a political clout through men like Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot. If the latter had not been fired by Taft in the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy of 1910-11, the Forest Service would probably have succeeded in swallowing the national parks before our bureau could have been created.

From the moment an independent Park Service was organized, the Forest Service was jealous of it and never failed to fight it whenever their land was involved. But look at it this way. For new parks [or monuments] or additions to old ones, the Park Service had few places to acquire land in the public domain unless it dipped into holdings of the Forest Service. They stood for use of anything within their borders: water, minerals, forests, and other commercially attractive enterprises. They allowed hunting, dams, summer homes, and unlimited roads for lumbering. Their beliefs contradicted all of ours. I'll admit that Mather and I gave little thought and had less concern when reaching out for their land because we were so philosophically opposed to them. We genuinely believed we were preserving while they were destroying. The antagonism continues to this day (Albright and Schenck 1999: 292-293).

Historian John Ise echoed the rival agencies positions, that were based on fundamentally different management goals and laws, as he stated:

The position of the Forest Service was generally that it could administer most forest land better than the Park Service, according to the principle of 'multiple use'—using the land for timber production, grazing, perhaps also for mining, water power, irrigation, hunting and recreation, whereas the Park Service could use it for only two purposes—scenery and recreation...There was, however, one advantage in park administration for areas that demanded absolute protection —park rules were lain down by Congress, could be changed only by Congress, and therefore had stability and permanence, whereas Forest Service rules were largely departmental rules, which might be changed at any time. A giant sequoia grove in a national park for instance, must be protected unless or until Congress passed a law authorizing cutting; but such a grove in a national forest might be cut at any time if the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief Foresters decided to do it, although it is almost inconceivable that they would do this (Ise 1961: 282).

The situation was similar with proposals to expand the Yellowstone National Park to the south and west into the Jackson Hole and Grand Teton areas. As early as 1916, Mather's assistant Horace Albright, later chief of the Park Service, visited the area and envisioned it as a new national park. However, not all was well between the Forest Service and the Park Service:

Finally the feud between the two services became so bitter that in the winter of 1924-25 the President's Committee of the National Conference on Outdoor Recreation appointed a committee of five, called the President's Co-ordinating Committee on National Parks and National Forests, to survey and make recommendations regarding park expansions—of all parks, not just Yellowstone...In the hearings before the Co-ordinating Committee the Forest Service did not object to the extension of Yellowstone to the east...or to the north, or to the southeast..., but was adamant against the southward extension to take in Jackson Hole [about 800,000 acres of land]. Officers of that service urged that the timber in the south part of Yellowstone and south of Yellowstone should be subject to logging, and the logs should be floated down to saw mills on Jackson Lake. Albright contended that this country was more valuable in its virgin state than as a cutover forest. The Forest Service men argued that there were valuable minerals in the area—coal, phosphate, and asbestos—but Albright denied that these were of any considerable value. The Forest Service was solicitous of the cattle industry in the area and about the summer homes, but Albright and his men thought the summer homes should be restricted to the south part of Jackson Hole where they would not be a desecration of the scenery. The Forest Service had generally more local support, and won in this contest. Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons were saved for the Forest Service, but Albright continued his campaign, and a few years later got Grand Teton National Park (Ise 1961: 274-275).

The coordinating committee after a series of hearings and visits to various national parks and forests made five recommendations, several of which would take decades to achieve and with great public disagreements between the Forest Service and the Park Service:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park be expanded to the south (the Forest Service agreed).
  • Mount Rainier National Park be expanded.
  • Sequoia National Park be expanded to take in Mt. Whitney, the Sierra crest, and Kern Canyon.
  • Grand Canyon National Park be expanded to the north onto the Kaibab National Forest.
  • Yellowstone be expanded on the north and east. Also that a new Grand Teton National Park be established, leaving out the Jackson Hole portion.

In the mid-1920s, Alaska lands became the latest battleground for national monuments and parks. Katmai NM was established in 1918 and Glacier Bay NM was added in 1925 from the Tongass National Forest. The latter NM caused an outcry of opposition from the Alaska newspapers (in 1980, both these NMs were reestablished as national parks). Just prior to the establishment of Glacier Bay NM:

the Juneau Empire labeled the establishment of the Glacier Bay reserve "a monstrous proposition." An editorial railed that "the suggestion that a reserve be established to protect a glacier than none could disturb if he wanted and none would want to disturb if he could, or to permit the study of plant and insect life is the quintessence of silliness. It leads one to wonder if Washington has gone crazy through catering to conservation faddists" (Zaslowsky and the Wilderness Society 1986: 260).

Money for management has always been a problem for all the agencies involved in the administration of the national monuments. John Ise explained:

The proclamation of these national monuments protected those on the public domain—controlled by the Department of the Interior—from further private land claims; those in the Forest Reserves were not subject to land claims. Otherwise the monuments were afforded little protection because Congress did not vote any money for protection until 1916, ten years after the Antiquities Act was passed, and then only $3,500 for the protection of some thirty widely scattered national monuments—about $120 each—and not much more for another ten years [amount raised to $20,750 in 1924] (Ise 1961: 160).

Horace Albright, who was to become the director of the National Park Service, noted that even the new National Park Service felt that the national monuments were "second class" compared to the national parks (Rothman 1989). The Department of the Interior and the Congress essentially ignored the monuments and their management:

Mr. Mather [in March of 1915] was rather indifferent toward national monuments for two reasons. In his opinion, they were substandard to national parks, and most weren't "natural scenic wonders," although there were exceptions like Muir Woods. Obviously everyone, including Congress, ignored them financially...It was shocking to me to learn that [monument managers] received only one dollar a month compensation for overseeing their monuments. Worse still, they were expected to pay their own way for [an official trip]....This awakened us to take a closer look at the welfare of our twenty-three orphan monuments...With no tourist traffic, there was no money from the Appropriations Committee [in Congress] (Albright and Schenck 1999: 51).

With no money to operate or manage the national monuments, citizens were able to do pretty much as they pleased. Vandalism was rampant and even severe destruction to the monuments was common. One way for the monument managers to overcome the problems was to assign nearby forest or park rangers the task of "managing" the monuments.

It is true that it was a violation of law to despoil the monuments, but most vandals cared little about that when there were no rangers around...Fortunately the government found ways to secure a small measure of protection without funds. Representatives of the departments having jurisdiction over the monuments were sometimes able to designate employees in the vicinity as temporary custodians. This was of course unsatisfactory, for these men had other jobs that required most of their time, but it was better than no protection at all (Ise 1961: 161).

Stephen Albright, director of the Park Service since 1929, sought to alleviate some of the worst management conditions in the national parks and monuments. Working behind the scene in Congress, he was able to enlist the support of Senator George Nye and others:

In 1931, at Albright's instigation, Senator George Nye had introduced a bill that would rid the national parks of some of the destructive practices that had plagued them from the beginning. Mineral prospecting in Mesa Verde and Grand Canyon was prohibited; summer home permits were rescinded at Glacier; all provisions that had previously authorized the Secretary of the Interior to grant railroad rights-of-way through parks were finally and fully revoked. Another precedent-setting expansion of Park Service authority under Albright had to do with roadbuilding [in Grand Teton National Park] (Zaslowsky and the Wilderness Society 1986: 28-29).


As noted above, transfer of all the national monuments was basically agreed to by all the affected agencies in 1916 when the National Park Service was established. The idea was further pushed in 1919 by Stephen Mather, director of the Park Service, but nothing came of it. Yet the idea of consolidating all these different pieces of federal land under one agency was the back of the minds of many leaders in Congress and the various agencies. Almost ten years later:

Secretary West had secured an agreement with the Secretary of War for the transfer to the Park Service of the military and historical parks and national monuments controlled by the War Department, and got a bill introduced into Congress by Senator Nye to effect this transfer, but the bill did no pass. In 1932 President Hoover made a proposal to Congress for reorganization [of the executive departments], but it was ignored. He then asked Director of the Budget Lewis W. Douglas to draw up a plan, and Douglas' plan gave the Park Service everything that Albright wanted (Ise 1961: 352-353).

On March 3, 1933, President Herbert C. Hoover, on his last day in office, approved legislation authorizing the president to reorganize by executive order the executive branch and administrative agencies of the government. The job fell to the new president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who on June 10th "issued the executive order for reorganization to take effect sixty-one days later. The order was spaciously inclusive: 'All functions of administration of public buildings, reservations, national parks, national monuments, and national cemeteries are the Department of the Interior...' (Ise 1961: 352-353)." The Executive Orders 6166 and 6228 to reorganize the federal government brought "sixty-four national monuments, military parks, battlefield sites, cemeteries, and memorials from the War Department, Forest Service, and District of Columbia to the National Park Service (Runte1987: 219-220)." Ten national monuments were transferred from the War Department to the Park Service for management, including the Big Hole Battlefield, Cabrillo, Castle Pinckney, Father Millet Cross, Fort Marion, Fort Matanzas, Fort Pulaski, Meriwether Lewis, Mound City, and the Statue of Liberty.

The Forest Service opposed the pulling away of the national monuments and placing them with the National Park Service, but it was a Presidential decision that they would go along with. In the future, the fate of several national forests would, for the most part, be decided in battles over creation of new national parks rather than national monuments. Four of the national monuments managed by the Forest Service (see table below) had been transferred previously to the National Park Service: Bandelier NM in 1932; Grand Canyon NM in 1919; and the Cinder Cone and Lassen Peak NMs in 1916.) The remaining 15 national monuments under Forest Service management were transferred in 1933 by Executive Order 6166. These Forest Service NMs contained over 451,000 acres (Smith 1930; USDI National Park Service 1987):


Monument NameForestLocationAcres

Bandelier1Santa FeNew Mexico22,075
Cinder Cone2LassenCalifornia4,800
Devils PostpileSierraCalifornia800
Gila Cliff DwellingsGilaNew Mexico160
Grand Canyon3Grand CanyonArizona818,560
Holy CrossHoly CrossColorado1,392
Jewel CaveHarneySouth Dakota1,280
Lava BedsModocCalifornia45,967
Lassen Peak2LassenCalifornia1,280
Lehman CavesNevadaNevada593
Mount OlympusOlympicWashington298,730
Old KasaanTongassAlaska38
Oregon CavesSiskiyouOregon480
Sunset CraterCoconinoArizona3,040
Timpanogos CaveWasatchUtah250
Walnut CanyonCoconinoArizona960
WheelerCochetopa & Rio GrandeColorado300
Total Acres1,279,223

1Transferred to NPS on February 25, 1932.

2Transferred to NPS on August 9, 1916.

3Transferred to NPS on August 15, 1919.

The transfer of management of these national monuments from the USDA Forest Service to the USDI National Park Service did not sit well with the Forest Service (Rothman 1989a & 1989b; Zaslowsky and the Wilderness Society 1986). "Relations between the Forest Service and the Park Service had for several years been strained, and this was said to have made them even more unfriendly (Ise 1961: 353)." The act also changed the name of the Park Service to the "Office of National Parks, Buildings, and Reservations," but the old name was restored on March 2, 1934 (Albright 1971). A second EO on July 28, 1933, made explicit those areas being transferred to the Park Service. The areas included "eleven national military parks, such as Gettysburg and Vicksburg; two 'national parks,' Abraham Lincoln and Fort McHenry; ten 'battlefield sites,' such as Antietam and Appomattox Court House; ten national monuments, mostly military and historical; four 'miscellaneous memorials'; and eleven 'national cemeteries' (Ise 1961: 353)."

For the National Park Service, the two EOs "consolidated all national parks, monuments, historical areas, military parks, cemeteries, memorials, battlefields, and the National Capital Parks into one system (Davis 1983: 789)." Park Service director Horace Albright "was greatly pleased to have the park system so well rounded out (Ise 1961: 353)." Park Service historian Barry Mackintosh noted the significance of the August 10th reorganization:

The reorganization of August 10, 1933, was arguably the most significant event in the evolution of the National Park System. There was now a single system of federal parklands, truly national in scope, embracing historic as well as natural places. The Service's major involvement with historic sites held limitless potential for the system's further growth...Although the big western wilderness parks would still dominate, the bureau and its responsibilities would henceforth be far more diverse (Mackintosh 2000: 1-2).


One of the classic debates over the future of national forests, national monuments, and national parks focused on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. The fight was long and bitter with the President personally involved. During the early to mid-1930s, an effort was underway to establish a new national park in the Olympic Mountains. Much of the Olympic Peninsula had been established in 1898 as the Olympic Forest Reserve, with the center proclaimed as the Mt. Olympus National Monument in 1909 and managed by the Forest Service. There were a number of unsuccessful proposals from 1909 to 1933 to establish a national park for the Olympics with the national monument as the core area. During World War I, the monument was reduced by one-half to permit lumber production, especially spruce harvesting, for the war effort (Evans and Williams 1985; Lien 1992; Richardson 1968; Twight 1983; Williams 1999).

In the fall of 1933, an elk hunt in the area would set off a storm of protest that brought many people together to petition Congress and the President to create a national park from the existing national monument. Essentially, the elk hunt was suggested by the USDA Biological Survey (now the USDI Fish and Wildlife Service) and carried out by the Forest Service who intended to reduce the elk herd in the monument. The hunt was successful with the killing of about twenty percent (250) of the elk population (Brant 1988; Lien 1991; Richardson 1968; Twight 1983). However, the staging of this hunt created a new feeling that the Roosevelt elk (named after President Theodore Roosevelt) needed the protection that only a national park could provide. The proponents also used this hunt as the basis for a citizen movement that five years later would result in the establishment of Olympic National Park. Much of the pro-park effort was led by John Boettiger, publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. His wife, Anna, was the daughter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The fight for the Olympic National Park would, once again, quickly evolve into a battle between the Departments of Agriculture and Interior. As the Olympic National Forest was basically opposed to the idea of a park, the interagency battle lines were drawn. Simply stated, the Forest Service wanted to manage the monument and surrounding national forest to provide employment and recreation to the regional economy by opening the area to road construction and timber management. The Park Service wished to place the national monument and some of the adjacent national forest into a new national park for the present and future generations by preserving the natural environment as it was (Brant 1988; Lien 1991; Twight 1983). By the spring of 1935, the issue had reached Congress and, despite various attempts to pass a bill to establish the park, the efforts failed. In a rather critical assessment of a new primitive and wilderness area policy, historian John Ise described an attempt by the Forest Service to quell the rising clamor for more national parks, including Olympic National Park:

In the summer of 1936, in an effort to forestall the new park [designation], the Forest Service designated certain lands adjacent to the [Olympic] national monument as 'Primitive Areas'—kept as wilderness free of roads or improvements...To give this arrangement the appearance of permanence it was done through a Department Order of the Secretary of Agriculture, rather than by mere administrative regulation. This method of undercutting the demand for more parks had been used widely by the Forest Service, and there were some fifty such "Primitive Areas" in the scenic regions of western national forests (Ise 1961 :388).

It fell to President Franklin Roosevelt to make the final decision. "At the suggestion of [Interior] Secretary Ickes, Roosevelt visited the Olympic Peninsula between September 30 and October 1 [1937] (Richardson 1968: 10)." While Roosevelt was on his way West, he visited Yellowstone National Park where his daughter and son-in-law met him. They spent some time with the President talking about the need for an Olympic National Park (Brant 1988; Freidel 1985) while on their way to Seattle on the train (along the way, Roosevelt stopped to dedicate Bonneville Dam and Timberline Lodge). He then visited the Olympic Peninsula.

The first stop was at Port Angeles where a pro-park demonstration was staged for his benefit. C.J. Buck, Regional Forester for the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service, and John R. Bruckart, Forest Supervisor of the Olympic National Forest, were on hand to advise Roosevelt about the folly of creating a national park. Their comments, however, instead of convincing FDR actually antagonized him. The Supervisor of the Mt. Rainier National Park, O.A. Tomlinson, who was not invited by the Forest Service initially, was invited by Roosevelt to be with the motorcade and provide advice. Both Buck, alternating with Bruckart, and Tomlinson rode with the President in his special car and talked with Roosevelt about the proposed park. Tomlinson's positive comments about the need for the park were nearer to the President's feelings (Brant 1988; Freidel 1985; Twight 1983). "At frequent stops, he spoke with characteristic sentiment and optimism. Seeing youngsters in one crowd, he told them, 'I think you children are going to get your national park' (Richardson 1968: 10)."

Not long after the Presidential visit, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester C.J. Buck was assigned elsewhere because of direct pressure from the White House. Irving Brant, a confidant of President Roosevelt, said that "the next time I talked with FDR [around October 1937]...he remarked to me, 'I told [Agriculture Secretary] Henry Wallace to take that fellow [C.J. Buck] out of Portland.' Wallace, I soon thereafter learned, did not remove him... (Brant 1988: 89)." Instead, Buck was given a directed transfer to the Washington Office by the Secretary of Agriculture. This event was the only time that a ranking Forest Service official (other than Pinchot) was removed by any president. Irving Brant described the following scene in early 1939, almost two years after the Olympic Peninsula trip, regarding C.J. Buck:

FDR looked at me sharply and asked, "is that fellow still there?" "Yes," I said. The president picked up the telephone and said, "Get me Henry Wallace." FDR held the phone. Then—"Henry," he said, "what did you do about that fellow I told you to transfer out of Portland a year ago?" A long silence. Then, in a tone of incredulity: "You didn't?" Another long silence. And finally, speaking slowly and emphatically: "Well — I — want — it — done." And he put down the receiver. It was done. On April 1, 1939 Regional Forester C. J. Buck was moved to the Washington office of the Forest Service as special inspector, which preserved his salary grade and took away his power. Occasional mention of Buck's name as regional forester meant nothing to Roosevelt, but he never forgot "that fellow" who [he felt] deliberately lied to him at the September 1937 conference at Lake Crescent (Brant 1988: 132).

While in Washington, Buck had another run in with Roosevelt in the White House. He then resigned. Supervisor Bruckart was transferred to be Forest Supervisor of the Willamette National Forest in Oregon. It is unclear if Bruckart left the Olympic National Forest voluntarily or not (Brandt 1988; Clary 1986).

A bill to establish the Olympic National Park was introduced in Congress during the following spring. Efforts at compromise were offered by the Forest Service, but the final decision was directly influenced by President Roosevelt. Acting Regional Forester Fred H. Brundage, as quoted in Twight (1983), wrote to the staff of the Olympic National Forest on February 23, 1938, that "by direction of the President a new proposed national park boundary has been worked out by the Chief of the Park Service in cooperation with the Chief of the Forest Service (Twight 1983: 103)." The amended Wallgren bill (HR 10024) was passed and signed into law on June 29, 1938. During the next two decades, several additions to the Olympic National Park were added from the Olympic National Forest and state lands; each was fought by the Forest Service and the State of Washington (Lien 1991; Richardson 1968). However, the opposition was futile in most of the cases where a national monument or national park was established or enlarged by land removed from the national forests (Hays 1956 and Steen 1976).


Bandelier National Monument, located in northern New Mexico, was proclaimed in 1916. Prior to the establishment of the monument, an area much larger was considered for national park status. Beginning around 1890, there was an organized effort to create what the proponents called Pajarito National Park. It was designed to encompass the ancient Indian villages and sites in the Pajarito, Frijoles, and several other canyons in this high desert country. There were a number of quite significant Indian canyon dwellings and adobe ruins in the area that were noted by archaeologist Adolph F. Bandelier in the summer of 1880 when he first visited the area (Lee 2001). The idea of making this unique area into a national park was first proposed in 1888 by Representative Holman:

Holman of Indiana introduce a bill to establish this region as a public reservation "for the preservation from injury or spoliation of all natural and archaeological curiosities."...In 1899 the General Land Office made its own study of possible protective measures. On December 4 "Detailed Clerk" James D. Mankin submitted a report proposing the establishment of a 153,000-acre complex, containing cliff dwellings, large communal houses, defensive outposts, boulder-marked sites, and burial mounds and crypts, as the Pajarito National Park, named for Parjario Canyon...On July 31, 1900, on the basis of Mankin's report, [Land Office] Commissioner Binger Hermann temporarily withdrew 153,000 acres of public lands in the region from sale, entry, or settlement pending Congressional consideration of the national park proposal (Lee 2001, Chapter VII: 2-3).

Although a bill was introduced into Congress during early January 1901, no action was taken. Two years later the USDA Bureau of Forestry, which at the time was only a forestry consulting agency, sent S.J. Holsinger to the proposed park area to study the forest resources and make other suggestions. His report in 1904 suggested that all the forested areas within the proposed park be eliminated from the proposal and added to a proposed Jemez Forest Reserve. President Roosevelt reduced the area on July 29, 1905, when he transferred about 47 square miles to the Santa Clara Indian Tribe. Then on October 12, 1905, the Jemez Forest Reserve was established which reduced the proposed park area to a small 8 mi2. The park idea was dead. Then on February 11, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed this area and adjacent lands (about 33,000 acres total) in the Santa Fe National Forest as the Bandelier National Monument. It was managed by the Forest Service until 1933 when management was transferred to the Park Service (Lee 2001).


At roughly the same time as controversy over the creation of Olympic National Park, tempers were coming to a boil over the fate of the area south of Yellowstone National Park. The area, that was known for providing elk habitat during the long winters, was long coveted by the Park Service (as mentioned previously). In 1918, President Wilson issued an executive order that withdrew 600,000 acres of national forests lands "from development in anticipation of the original Grand Teton National Park bill that never made it through Congress...[However,] the executive order remained in effect. It extended review authority over land use proposals to the NPS, which gave the Park Service 'virtual veto' power over Forest Service proposals (Little 2001: 5)." For some 40 years, the question about the final fate of the area was in doubt:

In 1898 the Senate directed the Secretary of the Interior to report on the question whether the area south of Yellowstone—described as the Yellowstone Forest Reserve, now Teton National Forest—should be added to prevent "extinction of the large game [elk] roaming therein."...Almost every report of the Secretary of the Interior and of the Director of the Park Service, from the time it was organized in 1917 [1916] and for the next twenty-five years, called for the addition of the northern part of Jackson Hole to the national park system in one way or another...About this time Representative Mondell made several efforts to extend Yellowstone southward, fighting the Forest Service and the grazing interests at every step. Much of the land to be added was in a national forest, and the Forest Service fought hard to keep it (Ise 1961: 490-491).

After years of wrangling, Grand Teton was established as a national park in 1929 with the wonderfully scenic park land carved from the Teton National Forest. However, a final decision about the disposition of the area north of Jackson Hole was still in doubt. Congress had "several times refused to give Jackson Hole national park status... (Ise 1961: 500)." During the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Forest Service took an active role in trying to discourage the Jackson Hole area from being included into the national park system. "The local Forest Service office was said to have taken an active part in the propaganda drive [against the park by the livestock and sportsmen's associations]...Certainly the local national forest office seems to have fought bitterly against the transfer of Jackson Hole to park jurisdiction (Ise 1961: 496)."

Park Service director Stephen Albright, once again, played a crucial role. In 1924, he traveled with John D. Rockefeller Jr. on a tour of the Teton country. Albright then carefully selected a location where the whole panorama of the Tetons and the Jackson Hole country was spread before them in a magnificent vista.

he [Albright] began to talk about how wonderful it would be if the place could be restored to its natural condition. Rockefeller agreed. He told Albright he would buy the valley from its private owners and turn it over to the Park Service. But the work had to be done slowly and surreptitiously, lest prices increase with the knowledge of a Rockefeller on the loose...Rockefeller's dummy corporation, the Snake River Land & Cattle Company, managed to buy up most of the private land in Jackson Hole—spending more than a million dollars in the end. But Rockefeller couldn't give it away. Congress, bowing to pressure from delegations from most of the Rocky Mountain and some other Western states, made it clear that it had no intention of adding Jackson Hole to Grand Teton National Park, and under those circumstances, the Interior Department could not accept the gift of land. Finally, in 1942, after fifteen years of paying taxes...Rockefeller gave Interior Secretary Harold Ickes an ultimatum: Take the land now or Rockefeller's people would start selling it off. Ickes turned to President Roosevelt and persuaded him to declare Jackson Hole a national monument, incorporating the Rockefeller holdings within it (Zaslowsky and the Wilderness Society 1986: 30-31).

Once again, President Franklin Roosevelt played a decisive role when he established the 616,000-acre Jackson Hole National Monument on March 13, 1943, by executive order 2578. "The reaction of the anti-park forces was prompt and violent...There were defenders of the proclamation. Peterson of Florida explained the terms of the proclamation at length, but the rebels did not want explanations; they wanted blood (Ise 1961: 498, 501)." At the local level, there were mixed reactions. Basically, the logging, mining, and livestock industries wanted no part of the monument, while recreationists, outfitters, and wildlife protectors were overjoyed. The uproar was predictable, though fruitless for the protesters, despite heavy-handed language and accusations by "Wyoming's congressman Frank Barrett [who] compared Roosevelt's action to those of Adolf Hitler... (Zaslowsky and the Wilderness Society 1986: 31)." Even Wyoming Governor Lester Hunt "appealed to the American public in a national radio broadcast to denounce the action. The Teton County Commission unanimously protested the monument, while the Conference of Governors from six western states without a single dissent resolved to seek recission of the Executive Order (Little 2001:5)." The western anger over the proclamation was felt by members of Congress, as several rushed legislation to dismantle the new monument and change the Antiquities Act of 1906 to eliminate Section 2 of the act that allowed the president "in his discretion" to establish national monuments. The legislation passed both houses of Congress in 1944, but was pocket-vetoed by the President.

The State of Wyoming, which agreed with the anti-monument forces, took a legal path to overcome the monument designation when it sued the superintendent of Grande Teton National Park. After extensive testimony by USDA Biological Survey wildlife scientist Olaus Murie and others, "Federal Judge T. Blake Kennedy concluded the trial by deciding the entire issued [issue] constituted a difference between the legislative and executive branches, which the judiciary was not in a position to resolve. His ruling maintained the president's action and Jackson Hole National Monument remained in effect (Little 2001: 10)."

Historian John Ise reported that when the announcement was made about the establishment of the national monument, under Park Service administration, that before "the local Forest Service staff turned their office and equipment over to the Park Service, they tore out all plumbing and telephone equipment, explaining later that they did it by mistake. The Forest Service headquarters intervened at one time to order less belligerency in the Jackson Hole office (Ise 1961: 496)." Irving Brant mentioned that Forest Service Chief Lyle Watts "told me that he did not share the antipathy felt by many Forest Service men for the national-park system....He said that when the Jackson Hole National Monument was set up...he sent 'airmail instructions to the Forest Service in Wyoming that it should do nothing to support protests against the action.' (Brant 1988: 265)." These charges against the Forest Service were published in the July 7, 1945, issue of The Nation. It did not bode well for the agency, cooperation with the Park Service, the conservation groups, and the public.

Efforts to restore the lands to their pre-monument status were attempted in Congress for another few years, but the effort wound down by 1948. Instead, in the 81st Congress of 1949-1950, a compromise bill was introduced to settle the issue. On September 14, 1950, President Truman signed the act that assigned 203,000 acres to Grand Teton National Park, allotted almost 6,400 acres to the adjoining National Elk Refuge, and gave another 2,800 acres to the Teton National Forest. "This was satisfactory to the Park Service, for it made Grand Teton the kind of park it should have been in the first place (Ise 1961: 506)."


In the northern part of the Cascade Range in Washington State is a magnificent, mountainous area known as the North Cascades. It encompasses the area just south of the border with Canada and until 1968 was part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Wenatchee National Forests. After that time, the area became known as the North Cascades National Park. Battles over the establishment of the park started in the late 1930s, but had never been able to gather enough supporters for a bill to pass Congress. Glacier Peak was at the center of the controversy:

The Park Service has been deeply interested in the preservation of two national forest primitive or wilderness areas in the northwest—the Three Sisters Primitive Area [established in 1937] in Oregon and the Glacier Peak Limited Area in the northern Cascades in Washington, the latter one of the most magnificent primitives in the country. These areas are subject to logging at any time that the Secretary of Agriculture decides it is desirable, and many conservationists believe they should be made secure. When the Secretary of Agriculture cut 53,000 acres [the French Pete Creek area] from Three Sisters [Wilderness in 1957] it was evident that they were not secure. There have even been suggestions that these areas, particularly Glacier Peak, might be worthy of national park or monument status...On February 16, 1959, the Forest Service announced a proposal to set up a 422,925-acre wilderness area here—but in the proposal the forested valleys were to be left out for possible logging, thus botching the scenery and spoiling the biotic balance of the area (Ise 1961: 526).

The North Cascades was established as a national park, while the Three Sisters, with the French Pete addition, became one of the many congressionally identified wildernesses of the National Wilderness Preservation System under the auspices of the Wilderness Act of 1964.


In the mid-1960s, Alaska came onto the conservation scene with various proposals to protect the natural wonders of the 49th State. Proponents of making vast areas in Alaska as national monuments, and eventually national parks, was pushed by the Park Service and senior Department of the Interior officials:

In 1965, after traveling to Alaska in the company of top national park officials, Interior Secretary Stewart Udall became infected with their zeal for new parks there. The problem was how to get them...In 1968, Udall persuaded President Lyndon invoke the 1906 Antiquities Act and create a grand sweep of national monuments to rival even Theodore Roosevelt's dramatic withdrawals...The entire package would be billed the 'President's Christmas conservation gift to the nation' and would send Johnson into history as the greatest conservation President since T.R. (Zaslowsky and the Wilderness Society 1986: 265).

Johnson planned on announcing the new national monuments in his annual State of the Union address, but a mix-up in Congressional notifications of key members of Congress led the president to hold up the announcements. Shortly after, the Park Service assumed that Johnson would declare the new monuments just prior to the inauguration of President Nixon. However, he changed his mind at the last minute, adding only 94,000 acres to the existing Katmai NM and establishing two huge national wildlife refuges in Alaska. Proponents were crushed, but with renewed interest they set their sights on winning the monument and park battle for Alaska.

Following the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, Forest Service Region 10 (Alaska) proposed in 1973 that seven new national forests (39.2 million acres) be created in south and central parts of the state. The idea floated around the Region and Congress waiting for the solution to the long running debates over disposal of the huge Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holdings in Alaska. President Jimmy Carter on December 1, 1978, during the congressional fights over the disposition of the BLM administered lands in Alaska, established 17 new national monuments—totalling 55,975,000 acres—and 38,930,000 acres of national wildlife refuges (Rakestraw 1981). The Forest Service, for the first time since 1933 when all the national monuments were transferred to the Park Service, gained a new national monument on Admiralty Island and another at Misty Fiords, both on the Tongass National Forest, while the BLM gained the Gates of the Arctic, Kenai Fjords, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, and Wrangall-St. Elias National Monuments. [Note: It is unclear why the Park Service spells the Norwegian word "Fjord" while the Forest Service has it as "Fiord."] Needless to say, the proclamations greatly upset many people in the State of Alaska, especially the Alaska congressional delegation (Zaslowsky and the Wilderness Society 1986). In fact, the NM designations by President Carter may have actually made the debates in Congress go quicker in trying to resolve the issues relating to the Native claims.

Between 1978 and 1980, when the final decisions over the D-2 lands passed Congress, there were many debates over the Park Service and the Forest Service proposals to vastly increase the holdings of the two agencies. With the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) on December 2, 1980, the huge expansion of the national forest system in Alaska failed to materialize. Instead of many new national forests in the state, ANILCA only made small additions to the Chugach and Tongass National Forests and transferred the old Afognak Forest and Fish Culture Reserve (established in 1902), then part of the Chugach National Forest, to the Alaska Native corporations. The National Park Service, on the other hand, gained as national parks and/or national preserves all the 1978 national monuments listed above, as well as new national park status for Aniakchak and Cape Krusenstern, as well as national park recognition for two older national monuments at Glacier Bay and Katmai. The act also made the core of the Admiralty Island and Misty Fiords National Monuments as wilderness. As a result of these actions, feelings were running strong against the federal government and especially the Park Service:

antifederal feeling still ran high in Alaska, where many felt they were deprived of their frontier heritage by meddlesome bureaucrats [from Washington DC]. In the late 1970s, for instance, when the Park Service temporarily increased its ranger power to administer new national monuments created by President Carter, outbreaks of violence were not uncommon. In some stores, rangers were refused service. One Park Service employee went to a dentist in Anchorage who refused to treat his impacted tooth because of the ranger's affiliation. Others received bomb threats at their lodgings, or death threats—one accompanied by a spray of bullets into an office window. In Lake Clark, an arsonist burned an airplane that had been chartered by three rangers (Zaslowsky and the Wilderness Society 1986: 271-272).

President Carter after the eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington State on May 18, 1980, was approached almost immediately by various environmental groups to establish a national park around the still smoking mountain. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Regional Office in nearby Portland mounted a very quick "attack" on potential Park Service plans by setting up recreational viewing and interpretation areas, expensive visitor centers, making and circulating draft management plans, and proposing land exchanges, especially since the top of the mountain, still belching smoke and ashes, was actually in private ownership. The Burlington Northern Railroad, that "inherited" the 19th century land grant to the Northern Pacific Railroad, owned a square mile of the mountain, including the missing several thousand feet of the top that was blasted into the atmosphere. The Forest Service set into motion a land trade with the company for their land on the mountain in exchange national forest land elsewhere. With these activities in motion, it was not surprising that instead of a new national park, Congress passed the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument act that was signed into law by President Carter on August 26, 1982. This 110,000-acre national monument is managed by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This was the first national monument administered by the Forest Service that has its origins in Congress rather than the president by proclamation alone.

In early 1986, there was a proposal by Senators Paul Laxalt and Chic Hect to create a Great Basin National Park from the core of the Humboldt National Forest in Nevada. They held several hearing on the matter during that summer. Opposition, although not strong, didn't want private lands to be included or purchased/condemned to make way for the park. In the fall of 1986, action by Congress created the new Great Basin National Park (the 49th national park) that included only the national forest land.

Based partially on the efforts to have Mount St. Helens declared a national volcanic monument, a 30-member citizens group near Bend, Oregon, began an effort in 1988 to have a new national monument declared around the Newberry Crater on the Deschutes National Forest. The entire Cascade Range of Oregon is of volcanic origin, with many outstanding, scenic features. After several years of negotiation, an act was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush establishing the Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument in 1990. The monument encompasses some 55,500 acres with an additional 10,300 acres established for special management to protect the resources of the volcanic monument.


Beginning in 1996, President Bill Clinton announced a proclamation establishing the 1,700,000+ acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. The monument was created from land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Opposition quickly mounted from the State of Utah, special interest groups, and local citizens. Howls of protest from the mining companies and the recreational users were heard by the administration and Congress, but the monument has held all attempts to dismantle its special status (Harrison 1998). Other national monuments and controversy would follow for the next five years, especially during the last year of his administration.

President Bill Clinton on January 11, 2000, expanded the Pinnacles National Monument in California by 7,900 acres and then established three national monuments in the states of California and Arizona and. The lengthy California Coast National Monument, encompassing all the federal lands—more than 11,500 uninhabited small islands, exposed reefs, and rock outcroppings—along the 842 miles long and 12 miles wide of California coastline. This approximately 883-acre monument is managed by the BLM. In the State of Arizona, there were two new national monuments established: The small BLM-managed Agua Fria National Monument (71,100 acres designed to protect American Indian ruins north of Phoenix) and the huge Grand Canyon-Parashant (1,052,000 acres of cliffs, desert, and scenic areas adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park). The latter monument is jointly managed by the National Park Service and the BLM.

On February 14, 2000, President Clinton announced in a letter that he was assigning Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman to a unique study of a possible new national monument in California: The Giant Sequoia National Monument. The majestic Sequoia is only found on the western slopes of the central Sierra Nevada. There are 38 sequoia groves located on the Sequoia National Forest and the remaining in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, the Sierra and Tahoe National Forests, the Bakersfield District of the BLM, Tule Indian Reservation, UC Berkeley land, and a scattering on private lands. A team of resource specialists worked on the proposed monument that could have encompassed as much as 440,000 acres. The team was given 60 days to study and report to the President as to whether the 70 or so sequoia groves should be protected under the Antiquities Act of 1906. This is perhaps the first national monument proposal that has been announced for study and public input prior to the establishment. Opposition to the new monument has come from the logging industry, off-road enthusiasts, and the western delegations to Congress.

On April 15th, President Clinton visited the Sequoia National Forest where he proclaimed the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The new monument embraces almost 328,000 acres of the Sequoia National Forest. The monument will be in two units—the northern portion is adjacent to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, while the southern portion borders the southwestern edge of Sequoia National Park and the eastern edge of the Tule River Indian Reservation. The new Giant Sequoia NM includes about half of the remaining Sequoia groves. The monument designation will preclude new mining claims and phase out of existing logging sales. A management plan will be prepared within three years of the designation of the monument.

On June 9, 2000, Vice President announced that President Clinton invoked the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish four new national monuments:

Hanford Reach National Monument—200,000 acres along a 51-mile stretch of the last free-flowing part of the Columbia River along the boundary of the Hanford nuclear reactor reservation in Washington State. It is estimated that 80% of the Columbia River fall Chinook salmon spawn in this area. The new monument is assigned to the USDI Fish & Wildlife Service for management.

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument—52,947 acres in southwest Oregon, just north of the California border. The area includes Soda Mountain. The area contains spotted owl habitat, as well as many species of butterflies, snails, and fish species found nowhere else. Management by the USDI Bureau of Land Management.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument—163,852 acres in the four corners area of southwest Colorado near Durango. The monument contains more than 20,000 archaeological sites, several areas exceed 100 sites per square mile, which is the highest known density of prehistoric American Indian sites anywhere in the U.S. The new monument is assigned to the USDI Bureau of Land Management.

Ironwood Forest National Monument—129,068 acres in southern Arizona. The new monument is the habitat for several threatened and endangered species. It is managed by the USDI Bureau of Land Management.

On July 7, 2000, President Clinton named the Anderson Cottage as the President Lincoln and Soldiers' Home National Monument. The 14-room, stucco cottage—listed as a national historic landmark in 1973—where President Lincoln and his family lived during the summers of 1862-64. It was at this cottage that President Lincoln wrote the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. Three other presidents have used the cottage as a retreat from the White House. The two-acre NM is on the grounds of the Soldiers' and Airmen's Home about three miles north of the White House in northwest Washington, D.C. Clinton also announced a $750,000 matching grant to be used for preservation efforts at the new national monument. It is to be managed by the Soldier's Home.

The new Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains NM in southern California was signed into law—rather than through the Antiquities Act—after years of negotiation by all parties and signed by President Clinton on October 24, 2000. The new national monument contains 272,000 acres of federal, state, county, Indian, and private lands. The NM includes the existing BLM Santa Rosa Mountains Scenic Area (established in 1990), and lies within the California Desert Conservation Area, designated by Congress in 1976. The original 194,000-acre scenic area contained 92,000 acres of BLM land, 27,000 acres of California Department of Fish & Game land, 13,000 acres of the Agua Caliente Indian Tribe, 1,000 acres of the Morongo Indian Tribe, 6,000 acres of the University of California, and 55,000 acres of private land. After years of negotiating, the new NM designation adds another 80,000 acres including about 70,000 acres from the San Bernardino NF and about 8,500 acres from the Mt. San Jacinto State Wilderness Park. In a very unique agreement, the NM will be cooperatively managed by the BLM and the Forest Service, with representatives from the California Fish & Game, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, California Department of Parks and Recreation, county-city regional agencies, private land owners, and the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy.

Several national monuments were established under the Antiquities Act on November 9, 2000, when President Clinton signed two executive orders creating the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona and another that greatly expanded the existing Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. The Vermillion Cliffs NM encompasses 293,000 acres of federal land that is considered to be a unique historic and geologic area. It contains a high density of ancient Pueblo Indian sites, as well as a unique combination of cold desert flora and warm desert grassland. The NM is also the home of several reintroduced California condors. The Craters of the Moon NM was expanded ten-fold from 54,000 acres to 715,440 acres. The original NM was established by President Calvin Coolidge in 1924 for the unique volcanic features. The NM has been expanded four different times since 1924 to include even more unusual geologic features. The present, expanded NM encompasses the entire Great Rift volcanic zone that covers much of the southern Snake River Plain.

Finally, President Clinton, just before he left office, established or expanded eight new national monuments. On January 17, 2001, the president set aside new monuments in California, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, and Idaho. The sites included:

Pompeys Pillar National Monument near Billings, Montana—a 150-foot sandstone column where Capt. William Clark carved his name on July 25, 1806, during his historic westward trek with Meriwether Lewis to the Pacific Ocean. The monument stands prominently along the Yellowstone River in central Montana. At the same ceremony, Clark was promoted from Lt. of the Corps of Artillerists and Engineers to Capt in the regular Army, with the effective date of March 26, 1804. The president also presented the title of Honorary Sergeant, Regular Army, to Sacagawea, a young Shoshone Indian woman who served as Lewis & Clark's guide. The same title and grade was also given to York, Clark's personal slave, who was the first black man to cross the continent. The monument covers about 51 acres of BLM land.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in north-central New Mexico near Santa Fe—the area is rich in volcanic pumice, ash, and tuff deposits. The area includes about 4,148 acres of BLM federal land.

Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona near Phoenix—encompasses the most biologically diverse of North American desert ecosystems, mountain ranges separated by wide valleys, and a large saguaro cactus forest community. The new monument contains 486,603 acres of BLM land.

Carrizo Plain National Monument between San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield, California—a large area of rolling grasslands, several endangered species, Indian sacred sites, and is bisected by a portion of the San Andreas Fault zone. The monument encompasses about 204,107 acres of BLM land.

Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in north-central Montana—the monument is along 149 miles of the Missouri River only major portion of the river to be protected in its natural and free-flowing state. The monument also contains the adjacent sandstone Missouri Breaks country, portions of Arrow and Antelope Creeks, and the Judith River, as well as a significant portion of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The monument contains 377,346 acres of BLM federal land.

Minidoka Internment National Monument is the site of a World War II-era Japanese-American internment camp an expansion Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. The area of the new monument contains about 73 acres of land administered by the USDI Bureau of Reclamation, but managed by the National Park Service as a unit of the Hagerman Fossil Beds NM.

Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean—it expands protection of an area in and around the Virgin Islands National Park. The new monument includes some 12,708 acres of federal submerged lands within a three-mile belt off of St. John, including the Hurricane Hole and areas north and south of St. John.

Buck Island Reef National Monument is an expansion of the existing monument off St. Croix. The expanded monument area includes 18,135 acres of submerged lands within a three-mile circle around Buck Island.

On January 20, 2001, President Clinton signed a bill that established the small Governors Island National Monument, that includes Castle Williams and Fort Jay, both important historic sites that were designed to protect the New York City harbor. This was the last national monument that Clinton established. There were reportedly a dozen plus areas that were under study as possible national monuments by President Clinton before he left office. One such proposed monument was around the Steens Mountain area in southeastern Oregon. After considerable public response, state concurrence, and congressional agreement, a 425,000-acre area became a Steens Mountain BLM Cooperative Management and Protection Area in legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton into law on October 24, 2000.

Critics have accused the president of trying to close his eight-year presidency with environmental actions rivaling those of President Theodore Roosevelt at the start of the 20th century. Even his supporters admit that this allegation is true. During his tenure as president, Clinton established over six million acres (not including the California Coast NM which could be several million acres) of new or expanded national monuments—the most of any president. Perhaps the biggest disappointment by the environmental community was his failure to designate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a national monument. However, the administration believed that the existing refuge designation gives greater protection than a monument would. In addition, by establishing such a monument, it could serve as the "final straw" for congressional critics to get rid of the Antiquities Act.


As with most of the Antiquities Act national monuments, there continues to be great, but isolated, controversy over their establishment. Various special interest groups have filed law suits, or are planning to do so, in the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Giant Sequoia, and Sonoran Desert NMs, asserting that the Antiquities Act is illegal and that only the Congress can establish a national monument. This interpretation would be consistent with the direct congressional role in establishing national parks, but not with almost 100 years of actions by the various presidents under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Two important legal opinions have been printed regarding the status of the national monuments under the Antiquities Act. The first was a U.S. Supreme Court decision on April 19,1920, regarding a mining claim case within the Grand Canyon NM. In this case, the court ruled that "The defendants insist that the [national] monument reserve should be disregarded on the ground that there was no authority for its creation. To this we cannot assent. The act under which the President proceeded empowered him to establish reserves embracing 'objects of historic or scientific interest.' The Grand Canyon, as stated in his proclamation, 'is an object of unusual scientific interest' (Cameron v. United States 1920: 455-456)." The court also ruled that the mining claim was invalid and thus his application of a patent to the claim be rejected, as the Secretary of the Interior had already decided.

The second case, this one involving a U.S. Attorneys General opinion on September 26, 1938, involved the proposed abolishment of the Castle Pinckney NM. The proposal was presented by the acting Secretary of the Interior to the Bureau of the Budget, then passed to the Attorney General for a decision. In part, the opinion of Attorney General Homer Cummings stated that the Antiquities Act of 1906 does not:

authorize the President to abolish national monuments, and no other statute containing such authority has been suggested. If the President has such authority, therefore, it exists by implication. My predecessors have held that if public lands are reserved by the President for a particular purpose under express authority of an act of Congress, the President is thereafter without authority to abolish such reservation....While the President from time to time has diminished the area of national removing or excluding lands therefrom, under that part of the act which provides that the limits of the monument "in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected," it does not follow from his power so to confine that area that he has the power to abolish a monument entirely...For the reasons stated above, I am of the opinion that the President is without authority to issue the proposed proclamation (Fowler 1941: 186-189).

Interestingly, 18 years later, the same national monument was abolished by Congress and the land transferred to the state. A few other national monuments have received similar "devolution" or "delisting" actions (Hogenauer 1991a and 1991b).

Congress in 1906 gave the president authority to establish national monuments. Perhaps in the future, under the new George W. Bush administration or other president, the Congress will take away the presidential authority under the Antiquities Act. However, this still leaves the door open for Congress to establish any new national monument or national park that it wishes. Congress has no restrictions on making these designations. Recent press reports in mid-February 2001, note that Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) plans to introduce legislation in Congress that would limit the president's power to make new national monuments. His legislation, titled the "National Monument Fairness Act of 2001" would amend the Antiquities Act by requiring any president to get congressional approval for national monuments larger than 50,000 acres. For areas smaller, the legislation would require the president to give a 60-day notice to the affected governors and congressional delegations. It is unclear if the proposed legislation will pass Congress and be signed into law.


Over the years, there have been many proposals by various groups to have the President establish new national monuments and national parks. Many areas in the West have at one time or another come under consideration as parks or monuments. At this late time, these areas are usually within existing national forests or Bureau of Land Management administered public lands, as the opportunities for huge gifts of land or the purchase of private lands diminish as the years go by (Albright and Schenck 1999). Even today, large farms and ranches are being sold at ever increasing speed, with millions of acres passing into ever smaller pieces of private property.

Areas in the Pacific Northwest which have been proposed as national parks include a proposal in the 1970s for a Cascades Volcanic National Park along the crest of the Cascade Range in Oregon. Another park proposal for a Siskiyou National Park in southwest Oregon in 1987-88. Several times in the 1970s and 1980s there were proposals for a national park to be created in the Hells Canyon area which separates Oregon and Idaho along the Snake River. A related proposal in the 1990s would create a series of national parks and preserves in northeast Oregon and western Idaho, including a Hells Canyon park, a Chief Joseph preserve, a High Wallowa preserve, and an Owyhee park. All together, the areas would encompass some six million acres. Other areas in the West have come under consideration, especially in the Southwest, which has many areas of mixed Forest Service and BLM management. Other efforts began in 1987 for a national park in the Sawtooth Range in Idaho (coming from the Sawtooth National Forest), a Jemez National Park in New Mexico (to include the Bandelier NM), and a Wind River National Park in Wyoming (from the Bridger-Teton National Forest). However, support for the many proposals has been lacking (so far). It should be remembered that a number of the national park and monument proposals were called for by various groups for 20 or more years before the president made a proclamation or Congress established a new national park or monument.

The actions by a president in establishing national monuments by proclamation were in the early years undertaken without much fanfare or controversy. Even Congress in the establishment of new national parks—that the president cannot do—was relatively free from controversy. Congress, over the years, has established a number of national monuments—the first in 1929 with the Badlands and Arches NMs (both of which are now national parks). Congress also acted in 1980 in Alaska with the establishment of two national monuments managed by the Forest Service (see discussion above). In the last few decades, there seems to be controversy around each new national monument and new national park. The more active role of the states and interest groups—both local and national—in these decisions tend to draw increasing media attention, political pressure on and by congressional members, and letter writing campaigns to the president and managing agencies. Several of the national monument cases in the last 25 years have been especially political.


Use of the Antiquities Act of 1906 by most presidents since enactment has been seen by the public as either a needed/necessary protection of unique prehistoric, historic, or scientific/ecological areas, or as a hindrance to the private use or state development of these areas. Also, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have, at times, been lukewarm or outwardly in opposition when special lands are "taken" by the Park Service.

Opposition—both local and congressional—has sometimes mounted when the president has proclaimed a new national monument or national park. Over the years, there have been efforts in Congress to block the use of the Antiquities Act or do away with the act itself, but without avail. As recently as 1997, the House passed a bill that would require congressional approval on monuments that exceed 50,00 acres, but the bill was not acted on by the Senate. It should be noted that not one of the presidential proclamations establishing a national monument or national park has been overturned by Congress or the courts. The record is quite clear on this matter. However, some of these areas were reconsidered over the years, a few were abolished or turned over to the states, while many others were enlarged or made into national parks. Environmental historian Hal Rothman described the use of the Antiquities Act of 1906 in his book America's National Monuments:

The Antiquities Act is a reminder of the executive direction in the name of the greater good with which the United States once trusted its presidents; despite periodic uses rightly termed excessive, its legacy is generally one of placing the future of the nation over the present needs or desires of individuals. It is an important indication of the social obligation American leaders once felt to maintain the physical and cultural features in this country for the benefit of all Americans (Rothman 1989a: 230).

Currently, the National Park Service manages 80 national monuments. The Forest Service manages six (although one of these is actually a Park Service monument), while the BLM manages 13 (two of these are Park Service monuments) and the USDI Fish & Wildlife Service manages one. The monuments in the Park Service tend to take a lower status than do the national parks. Some of the monuments have very little staffing, while others are fully staffed to handle the many visitors. The Park Service, however, has always been torn between protecting the environment or site versus allowing and encouraging recreational use. Several of the monuments are jointly managed by the Park Service and other agencies or volunteer groups.

The Park Service considered many locations for national park system status over the years, but relatively few were established. Controversy over "taking" national forest system land for new national parks and monuments has been troubling for the Forest Service and a source of rivalry for decades between the two agencies. Many of these possible new parks and monuments were in existing national forests, as recounted by Horace Albright, second chief of the National Park Service:

I don't think [Stephen T.] Mather [first chief of the Park Service] and I ever had any idea of challenging the Forest Service for leadership of the conservation movement. We just wanted to round out the National Park System. We declined to consider Lake Tahoe, Mount Hood, Mount Baker, Mount Shasta, the Arkansas Ouchita [Ouachita] Mountains, and many other beautiful areas because they did not measure up to what we regarded as national park standards or had too much commercial development or too many inholdings, or because the cost was prohibitive considering what Congress would give us...we [were] trying to build a system that would stand up for all time and not be in danger of absorption into some other bureau, probably the Forest Service.

Today, the Forest Service with the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument has entered the arena of huge expenditures, providing services for thousands of visitors, and overseeing concessionaires, much as the National Park Service has been experiencing over the last few decades. The preservation of the "living laboratory" of volcano recovery has been a top priority for Forest Service researchers and management, as well as providing top-notch visitor information and interpretation. This unique Forest Service monument is much more like a national park than a national forest. Contrast this with the Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument in central Oregon. Here the management is at a much lower intensity with visitors and management concerned about traditional uses (hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and sightseeing) of the Deschutes National Forest area. In this instance, management is not that much different from the adjacent national forest. The same applies to the two Forest Service managed national monuments in Alaska. Traditional uses top the management priorities, with much of both Alaska monuments dedicated to wilderness, with enclaves of mining and small settlements. Recreation visitation and use from outsiders is very low.

The new Giant Sequoia National Monument on the Sequoia National Forest was designated to protect the remaining sequoia groves is a special case, so far. This proclamation mark the first time that the responsible agencies, other than the Park Service, have been as involved in setting the standards and boundaries for a national monument. In the past, the Department of the Interior has typically provided the drafting and study, much like what the Forest Service completed for the new Giant Sequoia NM.

There is concern about the future management of the monuments, especially new ones. If they remain in the jurisdiction of the original agency (like the Forest Service or the BLM), then what special management will apply? For example, with the two Alaska NMs administered by the Forest Service, their core areas are designated by Congress as wildernesses. The question then arises about the hierarchy of congressional designations and what special management, if any, for the remaining national monument areas if the wilderness management is more restrictive/protective than monument management. Perhaps another way of asking the question is: Does national monument status entail a special, national land use allocation or designation and management direction/prescriptions that are fundamentally different from existing designations? It currently appears that the answer is no.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt announced on February 17, 2000, a new "National Landscape Monuments" system for the Bureau of Land Management. As reported by Associated Press writer Robert Weller, Secretary Babbitt "said the new responsibility will give the agency a purpose that it has lacked. Previously, land that was deemed important was given to the Park Service (Weller 2000)." By the summer of 2000, the BLM developed a "National Landscape Conservation System" that consists of national monuments, national conservation areas, national wilderness, wilderness study areas, national wild and scenic rivers, national scenic trails, and national historic trails. These 817 BLM special areas encompass more than 38 million acres, which is about 15 percent of the BLM land base. This could set the stage for an increased visibility for the NMs managed by the BLM, as well as those managed by the Forest Service. Interestingly, the BLM lands, much like the national forests, have been viewed in the "traditional approach" by the Department of the Interior and the Park Service:

you see something nice, you get a big movement to protect it, and you take it away from the Bureau of Land Management and give it to somebody else, namely the National Park Service [and] in some cases the National Wildlife Refuge System. And out of that has grown a kind of perception that the BLM is sort of the Bureau of Leftovers [or], livestock and mining—whatever you want to call it. But, it doesn't seem to me to be an adequate way of looking at the Western landscape, because the largest land manager ought to be induced to have a sense of pride rather than simply having a bunch of [unique lands] inventory out in the garage that is discovered and given to someone else (Babbitt 2000: 6-7).

The special interest groups may demand, at some future point, that all national monuments managed by the Forest Service and the BLM be transferred to the administration of the National Park Service, as was done in 1933. However, the Park Service does not have consistent policies or management direction for the 80 national monuments currently under its direction. Inconsistencies in policies or management priorities will, eventually, lead to more centralized oversight, unless each of the monuments in the Forest Service and the BLM take on the independent role that many of the national parks and monuments have. In any case, the future will be different than today. Surely, there will be more national monuments and parks in the 21st century.


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Albright, Horace M. and Marian Albright Schenck. 1999. Creating the National Park Service: The Missing Years. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Babbitt, Bruce. 2000. "From Grand Staircase to Grand Canyon Parashant: Is There a Monumental Future for the BLM?" Transcript of remarks at the University of Denver Law School, 10:30 am Thursday, February 17, 2000. Washington, DC: Department of the Interior website.

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Hogenauer, Alan K. 1991b. "An Update to 'Gone, but not Forgotten: The Delisted Units of the U.S. National Park System'." George Wright Forum, Vol. 8, #3: 26-28.

Ise, John. 1961. Our National Park Policy: A Critical History. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, for the Resources for the Future, Inc.

Ise, John. 1920. The United States Forest Policy. New Haven CT: Yale University Press.

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Mackintosh, Barry. 1995. "Former National Park System Units: An Analysis." Washington, DC: USDI National Park Service website.

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      Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. L., 225, Public Law 209)

      CHAP. 3060.--An Act For the Preservation of American Antiquities

      Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any person who shall appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroy any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated on lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States, without permission of the Secretary of the Department of the Government having jurisdiction over the lands on which said antiquities are situated, shall, upon conviction, be fined in a sum of not more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for a period of not more than ninety days, or shall suffer both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

      SEC. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, 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: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fide unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.

      SEC. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, and the gathering of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their respective jurisdictions may be granted by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutions which they may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation, or gathering, subject to such rules and regulations as they may prescribe; Provided, That the examinations, excavations, and gatherings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the gatherings shall be made for permanent preservation in public museums.

      SEC. 4. That the Secretaries of the Departments aforesaid shall make and publish from time to time uniform rules and regulations for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act.

      Approved, June 8, 1906.


Over the years since the Antiquities Act of 1906 became law, only President Nixon did not establish any new or expand any existing national monuments. President Reagan incorporated an existing national monument along with two state special areas into an expanded NM. President Carter signed a congressional bill that established the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. President Bush signed legislation creating the Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument. President Clinton recently signed an act to establish the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains NM. Depending on who is counting, since 1906 the presidents have created around 100 new national monuments. The following list notes the presidents and Congress that created new national monuments (Rothman 1989a and other sources). Many presidents expanded existing national monuments and several became national parks or preserves, while a few were transferred out of federal management or disbanded:


Theodore Roosevelt (R)181,233,884
William Howard Taft (R)1196,204
Woodrow Wilson (D)132,918,469
Warren Harding (R)89,058
Calvin Coolidge (R)132,444,496
Herbert Hoover (R)122,425,254
Franklin D. Roosevelt (D)101,365,800
Harry Truman (D)1427
Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)220,517
John F. Kennedy (D)21,190
Lyndon Johnson (D)126,080
Richard M. Nixon (R)00
Gerald R. Ford (R)121,888
Jimmy Carter (D)16154,055,000
Ronald Reagan (R)121,071
George Bush (R)1365,800
William J. Clinton (D)2346,000,9415

1President Carter proclaimed 15 NMs in Alaska at the end of 1978. In 1980, all were remade into national parks and preserves, except for two NMs on the Tongass NF and another managed by the Park Service. Also, Carter signed legislation creating the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in 1982.

2Expanded the Gran Quivira NM and included two state designated areas.

3President Bush signed into law the Newberry Crater NVM act in 1990, thus did not establish it using the Antiquities Act of 1906.

4It also includes expansion of the Pinnacles and the Craters of the Moon NMs, as well as the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto NM created by Congress in 2000 and signed into law by President Clinton.

5Acres of the California Coast NM have not been calculated, but it incorporates uninhabited federal islands along coastal strip some 840 miles long and 12 miles wide from the shore line into the Pacific Ocean.


The following list, from Davis (1983), Hogenauer (1991a and 1991b), USDI National Park Service (1987), Rothman (1989), and others, shows the national forests used to create national monuments, some of which became national parks (current names are shown in bold type). Acres shown are the current official area, which can include small amounts of private lands:


Sieur de Monts NMME1916
Lafayette NP
Acadia NP
1929 (name change)48,419
Admiralty Island NMAK1978 (on Tongass NF, Juneau District)981,697
Agate Fossil Beds NMNE19653,055
Agua Fria NMAZ2000 (BLM)71,100
Alibates Flint Quarry and Texas Panhandle Pueblo Culture NMTX1965
Alibates Flint Quarries NM
Andrew Johnson NMTN1942
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
Aniakchak NMAK1978
Aniakchak NM and Preserve
Arches NMUT1929
Arches NP
Aztec Ruin NMNM1923
Aztec Ruins NMNM1928 (World Heritage Site in 1987)318
Badlands NMSD1929 (authorized)
Badlands NM
Badlands NP
Bandelier NMNM1916 (from Santa Fe NF in 1932)33,677
Bering Land Bridge NMAK1978
Bering Land Bridge NM & Preserve
Big Bend NMTX1935 (authorized)
Big Bend NP
Big Hole Battlefield NMID/MT1910 (from War Department in 1933 by EO)
Big Hole NM
1939 (from Beaverhead NF)
Big Hole National Battlefield
1963 (1992 now part of Nez Perce National Historical Park)656
Biscayne NMFL1968 (authorized)
Biscayne NP
Black Canyon of the Gunnison NMCO1933
Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP
Booker T. Washington NMVA1956224
Bryce Canyon NMUT1923
Utah NP
1924 (from Powell NF also in 1928 & 1931)
Bryce Canyon NP
1928 (name change)35,835
Buck Island Reef NMVI1961 (NPS—expanded 2001 to include reefs)19,015
Cabrillo NMCA1913 (from War Department in 1933 by EO)137
Calaveras SPCA1990 (from the Calaveras Big Tree NF)???
California Coast NMCA2000 (BLM—840 mi X 12 mi, 11,500 islands)883
Canyon de Chelly NMAZ193183,840
Canyonlands NPUT1964337,598
Canyons of the Ancients NMCO2000 (BLM)163,852
Cape Krusenstern NMAK1978 (boundary change in 1980)649,182
Capitol Reef NMUT1937
Capitol Reef NP
Capulin Mountain NMNM1916
Capulin Volcano NP
Carlsbad Cave NMNM1923
Carlsbad Caverns NP
Carrizo Plain NMCA2001 (BLM)204,107
Casa Grande Ruin ReservationAZ1889
Casa Grande Ruins Reservation
Casa Grande Ruins NM
Cascade-Siskiyou NMOR2000 (BLM)52,947
Fort Marion NMFL1924
Castillo de San Marcos NM
1942 (from War Department in 1933)20
Castle Clinton NMNY19461
Castle Pinckney NMSC1924 (transferred by EO from War Dept. in 1933, abolished in 1956, now in private hands)4
Cedar Breaks NMAZ/UT1933 (from Dixie NF)6,155
Chaco Canyon NMNM1907
Chaco Culture National Historic Park
Channel Islands NMCA1938
Channel Islands NP
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NM MD/DC 1924 (authorized)
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NM
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Ntnl. Historic Park
Sulphur Springs ReservationOK1902
Platt NP
Chickasaw National Rec. Area
Chiricahua NMAZ/NM1924 (from Coronado NF in 1933 & 1938)11,985
City of Rocks NPID1988 (from Sawtooth NF)
City of Rocks National Reserve
1988 (coop. Management with NPS & Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation)14,107
Colonial NMVA1930
Colonial National Historical Park
Colorado NMCO191120,534
Congaree Swamp NMSC1976 (Biosphere Reserve in 1983)21,888
Crater LakeOR1882 (withdrawal then into Cascade Range FR in 1893)
Crater Lake NP
1902 (from Cascade FR)
Crater Lake NP
1980 (additions from Umpqua, Winema, Rogue River NFs)183,224
Craters of the Moon NMID1924 (BLM—661,000 acres added in 2000)739,682
Cuyahoga Valley NRAOH1974
Cuyahoga Valley NP
Death Valley NMCA/NV1933
Death Valley NP
1980 (Biosphere Reserve in 1984, added the NM in 1994)3,367,628
Mount McKinley NPAK1917
Denali NM
1978 (separate area)
Denali NP & Preserve
1980 (combined NP & NM, Biosphere Reserve in 1976)6,075,030
Devils Postpile NMCA1911 (from Sierra NF in 1933)798
Devils Tower NMWY1906 (1st NM)1,347
Dinosaur NMCO/UT1915210,278
Fort Jefferson NMFL1935
Dry Tortugas NP
Edison National Historic SiteNJ1955
Edison Laboratory NM
Edison National Historic Site
1962 (added the NM)21
Effigy Mounds NMIA19491,481
El Mapais NMNM1987 (land from Cibola NF, managed by NPS & BLM)114,277
El Morro (or Inscription Rock) NMNM1906 (expanded in 1917 & 1950)1,279
Everglades NPFL1934 (authorized)
Everglades NP
1947 (World Heritage Site in 1979)1,399,078
Father Millet Cross NMNY1925 (from War Dept. in 1933 by EO, then Transferred in 1949 to State of NY, Now a historic site)>1
Florissant Fossil Beds NMCO19695,998
Fort Frederica NMGA1936241
Fort Laramie NMWY1938
Fort Laramie National Historic Site
Fort Marion NMFL1924 (from the War Department in 1933 by EO--abolished?)19
Fort Matanzas NMFL1924 (from War Department in 1933 by EO)

Fort McHenry NPMD1925 (from the War Department in 1933 by EO)
Fort McHenry NM & Historic Shrine
1939 (redesignated as a NM)43
Fort Pulaski NMGA1924 (from War Department in 1933 by EO)5,623
Fort Stanwix NMNY1935 (authorized)

1973 (established)16
Fort Sumter NMSC1948 (from the U.S. Army in 1948)195
Fort Union NMNM1954721
Fort Vancouver NMWA1948
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
Fossil Cycad NMWY1922 (transferred by Congress to BLM in 1956)
Fossil Butte NM
1972 (from BLM)8,198
Gates of the Arctic NMAK1978
Gates of the Arctic NP & Preserve
1980 (Biosphere Reserve in 1980)8,472,527
George Washington Birthplace NMVA1930627
George Washington Carver NMMO1943210
Gila Cliff Dwellings NMNM1907 (transferred by EO from Gila NF in 1933, NPS site but managed by the Gila NF since 1975533
Giant Sequoia NMCA2000 (on Sequoia NF)327,769
Glacier NPMT1910 (from Blackfeet NF)
Glacier NP
1932 (Waterton-Glacier Intrntl Peace Park, Biosphere Reserve in 1976)1,013,572
Glacier Bay NMAK1925 (from Tongass NF in 1939)
Glacier Bay NP & Preserve
1980 (Biosphere Reserve in 1986)3,283,246
Glorieta BattlefieldNM1990 (to NPS from Santa Fe NF)???
Governor's Island NMNY2001 (from U.S. Army & U.S. Coast Guard)172
Grand Canyon Game PreserveAZ1906 (from Grand Canyon FR)
Grand Canyon NM
1908 (from Grand Canyon-now Kaibab NF) 818,560
Grand Canyon NP
1919 (from Kaibab & Tusayan [Prescott] NFs)
Grand Canyon NM #2
Marble Canyon NM
Grand Canyon NP
1975 (combined the two NMs above, World Heritage Site in 1979)1,217,403
Grand Canyon-Parashant NMAZ2000 (managed by NPS & BLM)1,052,000
Grand Portage National Historic SiteMN1951
Grand Portage NM
1958 (by act of Congress)710
Grand Staircase-Escalante NMUT1996 (BLM)1,870,800
Grand Teton NPWY1929 (from Teton NF)
Jackson Hole NM
1943 (from Teton NF)
Grand Teton NP
1950 (combined with the NM)309,993
Grandfather Mountain NMNC1917 (authorized but not designated)???
Lehman Caves NMNV1922 (from Nevada NF in 1933)
Great Basin NP
1986 (from NM & Humbolt NF in 1986)77,180
Great Sand Dunes NMCO1932 (from Rio Grande NF in 1956)
Great Sand Dunes NP and Preserve
2000 (incorporates the NM and NF land)38,662+
Great Smokey Mountains NPTN/NC1926 (authorized)
Great Smokey Mountains NP
1934 (Biosphere Reserve in 1976 & World Heritage Site in 1983)521,621
Guadalupe Mountains NPTX1966 (authorized)
Guadalupe Mountains NP
Santa Rosa Island NMFL1939 (abolished 1946)
Gulf Islands National Seashore
1971 (includes Santa Rosa Island)9,500
Hagerman Fossil Beds NMID1988 (from BLM)4,351
Hanford Reach NMWA2000 (51 miles along Columbia River in the Hanford nuclear reservation, managed by the USDI Fish & Wildlife Service)195,000
Harpers Ferry NMWV/VA/MD1944 (authorized)
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
Hawaii NPHI1916
Haleakala NP
1960 (from part of Hawaii NP)29,824
Hawaii Volcanoes NP
1961 (combined Hawaii and Haleakala NPs, Biosphere Reserve in 1980)209,695
Hohokam Pima NMAZ1972 (authorized)1,690
Holy Cross NMCO1929 (transferred to NPS by EO from Holy Cross NF in 1933, abolished in 1950 by Congress, now in White River NF)1,392
Homestead NMNE1939195
Mound City Group NMOH1923 (Transferred from the War Department in 1933 by EO, managed by the Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society until 1946)
Hopewell Culture NHP
1992 (included the Mound City Group NM)270
Hot SpringsAR1832 (reservation)

Hot Springs Reservation
1880 (made a permanent)
Hot Springs NP
Hovenweep NMCO/UT1923785
Ironwood Forest NMAZ2000 (BLM)129,068
Isle RoyaleMI1931 (authorized)
Isle Royale NP
1940 (transfer of lands from state)
Isle Royale NP
1942 (Congress confirms, Biosphere Reserve in 1980)571,790
Jewel Cave NMSD1908 (from Harney NF in 1933)1,274
John Day Fossil Beds NMOR1974 (from BLM)14,057
Joshua Tree NMCA1936
Joshua Tree NP
1980 (Biosphere Reserve in 1984, added the NM in 1994)1,022,703
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks NMNM2001 (BLM)4,148
Katmai NMAK1918 (addition in 1978)
Katmai NP & Preserve
Kenai Fjords NMAK1978
Kenai Fjords NP
General Grant NPCA1890
Kings Canyon NP
1940 (from General Grant NP, Sequoia & Sierra NFs, Biosphere Res. in 1976)461,901
Kobuk Valley NMAK1978
Kobuk Valley NPAK19801,750,737
Lake Clark NMAK1978
Lake Clark NP & Preserve
Lassen Peak NMCA1907 (on Lassen NF)1,280
Cinder Crater NM
1907 (on Lassen NF)4,800
Lassen Volcanic NP
1916 (from NMs and Lassen NF)106,372
Lava Beds NMCA1925 (from Modoc NF in 1933)46,560
Lewis & Clark Caverns NMMT1908 (transferred by Congress to Montana in 1937)
Morrison Cave State Park
Lewis and Clark Cavern State Park
1946 (name change)
Morrison Cave State Park
1953 (name change)
Lewis and Clark Cavern State Park
1954 (name change)???
Little Big Horn National Cemetery MT
National Cemetery of Custer Battle-Field Reservation
1886 (from War Department in 1940)
National Cemetery of Custer's Battlefield

Custer Battlefield NM
1946 (act of Congress)
Little Bighorn Battlefield NM
Mackinac Island NPMI1875 (managed by the Secretary of War)
Mackinac Island SP
1895 (ceded to Michigan as a state park)???
Mammoth Cave NPKY1926 (authorized)
Mammoth Cave NP
Mammoth Cave NP
1942 (Congress confirms, World Heritage Site in 1981)52,830
Mesa Verde NPCO1906 (World Heritage Site in 1978)52,122
Minidoka Interment NMID2001 (USDI-BOR but managed by the NPS as part of Hagerman Fossil Beds NM)73
Misty Fiords NMAK1978 (on Tongass NF, Ketchikan RD)2,225,000
Montezuma Castle NMAZ1906 (from Coconino NF in 1937 & 1948)858
Pacific Forest ReserveWA1892
Mount Rainier NP
1899 (from the Mt. Rainier FR)235,625
Mount Rushmore NationalSD1925 (authorized from Harney NF in 1928)
1939 (acquired)1,278
Mount St. Helens NVMWA1982 (managed by Gifford Pinchot NF)110,000
Muir Woods NMCA1908554
Meriwether Lewis Park NMMS1925 (from War Department in 1933 by EO)
Natchez Trace Parkway
1934 (initial appropriations)
Ackia Battleground NM
Natchez Trace Parkway
1938 (both NMs added in 1961)51,747
National Park of American SomoaAS1997 (the 50th NP)10,520
Natural Bridges NMUT1908
Natural Bridges NM
1916 (boundary redescribed)7,636
Navajo NMAZ1909360
Newberry Crater NVM (w/Special Mgmt. Area-10,300 acres)OR1990 (on the Deschutes NF)65,800
Noatak NMAK1978
Noatak National Preserve
North Cascades NPWA1968 (from Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie & Wenatchee NFs)504,780
Ocmulgee NMGA1934 (authorized)
Ocmulgee NM
Old Kasaan NMAK1916 (transferred by EO from Tongass NF in 1933, abolished in 1955. The totem poles were moved to a museum. Now part of the Tongass NF)38
Mt. Olympus NMWA1909
Olympic NP
1938 (from Olympic NF in 1933 & 1938, World Heritage Site in 1981)922,651
Oregon Caves NMOR1909 (from Siskiyou NF in 1933)488
Organ Pipe Cactus NMAZ1937 (Biosphere Reserve in 1976)330,689
Palm Canyon NMCA1922 (authorized only, on Agua Caliente Indian Reservation)???
Papago Saguaro NMAZ1914 (abolished by Congress in 1930)
Papago State Park
Pecos NMNM1965 (authorized)
Pecos National Historical Park
Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial NMOH1936
Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial
Petrified Forest NMAZ1906
Petrified Forest NP
1958 (authorized)
Petrified Forest NP
Petroglyph NMNM19907,232
Pinnacles NMCA1908 (expanded by 7,900 acres in 1999)24,165
Pipe Spring NMAZ192340
Pipestone NMMN1937282
Pompeys Pillar NMMT2001 (BLM)51
Poverty Point NMLA1988911
Anderson Cottage NHLDC1973 (located at 3700 N. Capitol St. NW)
President Lincoln and Soldiers' Home NM
Rainbow BridgeUT1910160
Patrick Henry NMVA1935 (authorized 1935 & 1940, withdrawn 1944)
Red Hill Patrick Henry Nat. Mem.
Redwood NPCA1968 (from Six Rivers NF special unit, made a Biosphere Reserve in 1983)112,430
Rocky Mountain NPCO1915 (from Colorado & Arapaho NFs in 1930, made a Biosphere Reserve in 1976)265,723
Russell Cave NMAL1961310
Saguaro NMAZ1933 (from the Coronado NF)
Saguaro NP
Saint Croix Island NMME1949
Saint Croix Island International Historic Site
Gran Quivira NMNM1909
Salinas NM
1980 (enlarged w/name change)
Salinas Pueblo Missions NM
1988 (enlarged w/2 state monuments)1,071
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains NMCA2000 (enlarged a BLM scenic area, includes 70,000 acres from San Bernardino NF, State lands, Tribal lands, and Private)272,000
Scotts Bluff NMNE19193,003
Sequoia NPCA1890 (Biosphere Reserve in 1976)402,510
Shenandoah NPVA1926 (authorized)
Shenandoah NP
Shenandoah NP
1937 (Congress confirms)198,081
Shoshone Cavern NMWY1909
Shoshone Cavern City Park
1954 (transferred by Congress to the City of ody, closed in 1966)???
Sitka NMAK1910
Sitka National Historic Park
Sonoran Desert NMAZ2001 (BLM)486,646
Statue of Liberty NMNY/NJ1924 (transferred from the War Department in 1933 by EO, Ellis Island added in 1965, made a World Heritage Site in 1980)58
Sullys Hill NPND1904
Sullys Hill national game preserve
1931 (transferred to the USDA)???
Sunset Crater NMAZ1930 (from Coconino NF in 1933)
Sunset Crater Volcanic NM
1990 (name change)3,040
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park ND1947
Theodore Roosevelt NP
Timpanogos Cave NMUT1922 (from Wasatch NF in 1933)250
Tonto NMAZ1907 (from Tonto NF in 1933 & 1937)1,120
Tumacacori Mission NMAZ1908
Tumacacori National Historical Park
Tuzigoot NMAZ1939801
Upper Missouri River Breaks NMMT2001 (BLM)377,346
Verendrye NMND1917 (portion flooded by Garrison Dam in 1955, transferred by Congress to the North Dakota State Historical Society in 1956)253
Vermillion Cliffs NMAZ2000 (BLM)280,324
Virgin Islands Coral Reef NMVI2001 (NPS—underwater reef)12,708
Virgin Islands NPVI1956 (the smallest NP, Biosphere Reserve in 1976)14,689
Voyagers NPMN1971 (authorized)
Voyagers NP
Walnut Canyon NMAZ1915 (from Coconino NF in 1933 & 1938)3,579
Wheeler NMMT1908 (transferred to the NPS from Cochetopa & Rio Grande NFs in 1933)
Wheeler Geologic Area
1950 (transferred by Congress now part of the >Rio Grande NF)300
White Sands NMNM1933143,733
Whitman NMWA1940
Whitman National Historical Site
Wind Cave NPSD1903 (Wind Cave National Game Preserve added in 1935)28,295
Wrangall-St. Elias NMAK1978
Wrangall-St. Elias NP & Preserve
1980 (World Heritage Site 1979)13,176,371
Wupatki NMAZ192435,422
Yellowstone NPWY/ID/MT1872 (the 1st NP, Biosphere Reserve in 1976, World Heritage Site in 1978)2,219,791
YosemiteCA1864 (Yosemite Valley ceded to state)
Yosemite NP
1890 ("donut" around Yosemite Valley)
Yosemite NP
1905 (state re-ceded valley to federal gov't)
Yosemite NP
1906 (made a World Heritage Site in 1984)761,266
Yucca House NMCO191934
Yukon-Charley NMAK1978
Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve
Mukuntuweap NMUT1909
Zion NM
1918 (name change)
Zion NP
Zion NM #2
Zion NP
1956 (NM #2 added)146,592

Last Updated: 19-Feb-2018