Monument Designation

National monuments make up some of America’s most celebrated icons, from California's Giant Sequoia National Monument to New York's Statue of Liberty.

With the stroke of a pen, the president of the United States can protect natural, historical and cultural wonders by designating them as national monuments. The president can do this by using the Antiquities Act, a law enacted by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Perhaps one of the greatest powers bestowed up the president of the United States is the ability to protect America’s treasures by using the Antiquities Act. Sixteen presidents — from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama — have used the Antiquities Act to protect places big and small across the United States. 

National monument designation is a form of protection most like a National Conservation Area (NCA). National monuments are flexible designations that allow for a true conservation balance between development and the need to protect our most treasured places for our children and grandchildren.

How we designate national monuments

National monuments can either be established by Congress though legislation or by the president of the United States through the use of the Antiquities Act.

Sometimes when the wheels of Congress move too slowly, or there is extreme partisan gridlock, the use of the Antiquities Act is welcomed, especially when cries for protection on the ground have hit a brick wall in Congress.

Existing monuments

America celebrates more than 100 national monuments, many of which were designated through the use of the Antiquities Act.

Antiquities Act

Some of our most beloved places are here today thanks to the Antiquities Act. This popular law is used by the president to designate national monuments. Since its enactment in 1906, the majority of U.S. presidents have used it. The Antiquities Act has protected well known places like the Grand Canyon, which was a national monument before it gained national park status, and lesser known places, like the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Monument designation FAQs

Got a question about national monuments? We have some some great FAQs that can help.

  • cate tanenbaum

    Wilderness Society applauds House for moving beyond ‘gridlock’ but says new amendments lead legislation astray

    The Wilderness Society today praised the House Natural Resources Comamittee for advancing Wilderness designations for Washington state and Nevada but worries House legislation departs too significantly from more locally supported counterpart bills in the Senate. 

  • Neil Shader

    The following statement can be attributed to Chase Huntley, senior government relation director for The Wilderness Society. Chase was invited to testify before the House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources on H.R. 596 and H.R. 1363.

  • Neil Shader

    The first is the “Advancing Conservation and Education Act of 2014,” from Rep. Rob Bishop (Utah) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (Oregon), which would expedite transfers of land between states and federal agencies.