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National Monument FAQs

What is a national monument? Like a statue?

While the Statue of Liberty is in fact a national monument, most national monuments are areas of land and/or water. Monuments are created to preserve designated lands, oceans, or historical sites for the purpose of keeping alive our nation’s history and cultural heritage for future generations.

Are national monuments the same as national parks?

In short, no. The main difference is in the way they are established. While monuments can be created through a presidential proclamation or an act of Congress, National parks can only be created by an act of Congress. National parks are also solely managed by the National Park Service (NPS), whereas national monuments can be managed by a number of different federal agencies.

What law grants the president the authority to designate a national monument?

The Antiquities Act of 1906. This legislation gives the president the ability to set aside federal lands deemed to possess unique or special historic or scientific values, as explicitly mentioned in the law. 

An excerpt: “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…”

Are national monuments supported by both political parties?

Yes. Historically, presidents of both major political parties, 9 Democrats and 9 Republicans, have shown bipartisan support for monument designations.

What are examples of places that have been designated, and where can I read the proclamations?
Who manages national monuments?

Monuments can be managed by one or more of several land management agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), United States Forest Service (USFS), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Park Service (NPS), and a few others.


What do national monuments generally allow?
  • Hiking, backpacking
  • Birdwatching
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Horse riding
  • Bike riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Operating motorized vehicles on designated roads
What do national monuments generally not allow?
  • New oil and gas leases
  • New grazing permits or allotments
  • Public access to private property
  • New roads
  • New mineral exploration and projects
What about rights and leases existing at the time of a monument designation?

All monuments are inclusive of valid existing rights before, or at the time of, designation. This includes examples, such as grazing leases and energy transmission right of ways.

How do national monuments impact local and regional economies?

A national park or monument designation generally leads to increased visitation and economic activity in adjacent communities. For example, Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Mojave National Preserve together in California contributed $420 million in economic output and added 3,929 jobs. As a result of the designation of Organ-Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico, visitation has increased from 183,900 in 2012 to 612,781 in 2022, while tax revenue due to monument visitation totaled to $1.9 million in 2022 alone and contributing to $13 million in tax revenues over the last decade. 

  • A report by the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce details significant economic benefits in a case study of Organ-Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument.
  • This resource by Headwater economics explains further how national monuments can be sustainable economic drivers on a local and regional scale.
Who supports national monuments and helps to steward them?

Many groups have supported past designated monuments, including: indigenous groups, business owners, veterans, recreation groups, conservationists, scientists, academics, and more! Moreover, people of all ages, demographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds have come together to celebrate monuments as engines that drive social and environmental equity, along with preserving cultural sites, layered history, educational resources, and the natural world.