The United States National Natural Landmarks (NNL) is a program that identifies and encourages the management, conservation, and rehabilitation of natural history in the US. The program identifies the geological and biological features in private and public ownership. The main aim of the program is to encourage and support individual and organization efforts in preserving sites that illustrate the ecological and geological history of the country. The program also seeks to encourage the public to appreciate natural heritage. There are 599 National Natural Landmarks in the country spread across 48 states, and the territories of Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa. Delaware and Louisiana are the only states without a National Natural Landmark. The federal, state, county, or municipal governments manage about one-half of the landmark sites. One-third is privately owned while the rest is owned and managed by a public-private corporation. A site qualifies as NNL because it contains the remnants of a specific geological, or ecological, features. There are 16 National Natural Landmarks in Alaska. The smallest is 170 acres while the largest is 1.8 million acres. All the NNLs were designated between 1967 and 1976.
Alaska's National Natural Landmarks
Redoubt Volcano, also known as Mount Redoubt, is the highest summit of the Aleutian Range at 10,197 ft. The volcano sits 110 miles to the southwest of Anchorage, within the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. The volcano is classified as active, with eruptions in 1902, 1966, 1989, and 2009. The 1989 eruption is especially notable as it was the first ever successfully predicted volcanic eruption.
The Aniakchak Crater is found within the Aniakchak National Monument. It is six miles wide and 200 ft. deep. The Surprise Lake is found within the creater. A warm spring feeds the lake, which acts as a spawning ground for salmon. It was designated in 1967 as the first National Natural Landmarks in Alaska. The last eruption occurred in 1931, but eruptions 3,700 ago shaped the regional landscape and influenced the growth of plants and animal species.
The Malaspina Glacier Is the largest piedmont glacier in the world. It is located in the tip of the Alaska panhandle. It was named after Alessandro Malaspina an Italian explorer serving with the Spanish navy. The glacier can be up to 2,000 feet thick in some places and have a depth of up to 980 feet below the sea level. Explorers and navigators of the western coast have studied the ice body for more than two centuries. It was designated and National Natural Landmark in 1968 and covers an area of about 1 million acres.
Mount Veniaminof contains the largest cupped ice field in the United States. The icefield covers an area of about 25 square miles. The stratovolcano is the only volcanic mountains in North America with an active vent at the centre. The last major eruption was in 1750 BCE, but several minor eruptions have been reported since the 1930s. The mountain is usually covered in fog and clouds, and it can only be seen entirely one or two days a year. It was designated in 1967.
Ownership of the Landmarks
Iliamna Volcano and the Redoubt Volcano are the only landmarks that were designated in 1976. All the rest were designated between 1967 and 1968. There are no fully privatised landmarks in Alaska, unlike other states where private individuals are allowed to own landmarks. Four of the 16 landmarks are owned by the partnership of the federal and state governments and private individuals.