In the United States (US), a national monument is a protected area that can be established from any piece of federal land if approved by the President of the United States. Congress also has the power to declare a national monument through legislation. National monuments are managed by various federal agencies including the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The country's first national monument was Devils Tower in the state of Wyoming, which was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. To date, the US has 129 national monuments spread over 32 states.
Examples of US National Monuments
Arizona and California have the highest number of national monuments in the US, each with a total of 18. New Mexico has the third most national monuments, with 14, while Utah (9) and Colorado (8) rank fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the country's largest national monument, encompassing an area of about 583,000 sq mi. Located near Honolulu, Hawaii, the monument is administered by three agencies, namely the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Established in 2006, the monument includes atolls and ten islands. When it was created, the monument had an area of only 140,000 sq mi, but was expanded to its current size in 2016. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is home to roughly 7,000 species, including the rare hawksbill sea turtle, the threatened Hawaiian monk seal, and the Laysan duck.
Also known as Bear Lodge Butte, Devils Tower is located in Crook County, Wyoming. The butte was the first feature to be established as a monument on September 24, 1906. The monument itself has a height of about 867 ft from base to top, but the protected area covers an area of 545 ha and receives roughly 400,000 visitors each year. Like the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Devils Tower is home to a wide range of wildlife including the white-tailed deer, bald eagles, and prairie dogs. Some areas within Devils Tower, such as Entrance Road, are included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Previously named Castle Garden, Castle Clinton is perhaps the most popular national monument in the United States in terms of the number of visitors. In 2018 alone, Castle Garden received a whopping 4,533,564 visitors. Built between 1808 and 1811, Castle Clinton (or Fort Clinton) is a sandstone fort located in Manhattan’s Battery Park. With an area of about 1 acre, the monument was originally designed to be the first US immigration station.
National Park Service (NPS)
In the National Park System alone, national monuments occupy a combined total area of about 3,600 sq mi. Therefore, it is not surprising that the National Park Service (NPS) is the agency that manages the most national monuments. The NPS currently manages 85 monuments, two of which are managed in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management (one monument) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (one monument). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages a total of 28 monuments.