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.

Photo: Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, N.M., by BLM New Mexico

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.

  • Mason Cummings

    The Wilderness Society is pleased to offer the following assets to press covering LWCF reauthorization. Please credit The Wilderness Society all uses of these materials.

  • Michael Reinemer

    "We appreciate the House Natural Resource Committee working to advance a bipartisan bill today to permanently authorize the Fund. This is a notable step forward to have both sides of the aisle recognize the great importance and impact of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. However, to save this vital program, Americans need to see full, dedicated funding for the program in addition to permanent reauthorization. We look forward to working with members from both parties and both chambers to finally provide long-term security for this critical fund."

  • Michael Reinemer

    The summit draws a broad range of private sector, public sector and nonprofit professionals in the outdoor recreation, public land management and conservation communities.  The event will feature panel discussions with outdoor recreation industry representatives (REI, The North Face, Merrell, Hipcamp), representatives from five federal land management agencies (National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Services, and NOAA), and youth representatives.