In April, the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks—a group of more than 2,000 current, former, and retired employees and volunteers of the National Park Service (NPS)—addressed a letter to President Biden encouraging his proclamation of new national monuments through the Antiquities Act of 1906.
National monument designations would give these significant sites protection as well as economic and recreational benefits. There is also a precedent for national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act to become national parks—both Grand Canyon and Acadia received designations this way.
The NPS currently manages 85 national monument sites. Here are the coalition’s recommendations for six new ones:
Castner Range National Monument, Texas
This proposed monument would protect the Castner Range in the Franklin Mountains and open up the federally-owned land for public use. Located in the El Paso, Texas, area, the designation would protect about 7,000 acres from development and preserve parts of the region’s heritage, according to the El Paso Times. If designated, new trails and camping areas could be developed.
Local business owners also hope to see economic impacts, similar to the boosted spending impact that Greater Las Cruces, New Mexico, saw with the designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in 2014.
Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, Nevada
The land for this proposed national monument sits on the California-Nevada border in the Mojave Desert. Considered sacred by 12 tribes—including Yuman-speaking, Hopi, and Chemehuevi Paiute—“Avi Kwa Ame” is the Mojave name for Spirit Mountain. The establishment of this land as a national monument is critical in protecting Native American ancestral lands, according to the coalition.
Range of Light National Monument, California
A grassroots campaign, Unite the Parks, is fighting for NPS control and national monument designation of the 1.3 million-acre Sierra National Forest between Yosemite and Kings Canyon national parks. According to Unite the Parks, a designation could protect the land by stopping commercial use, restoring the habitat, and also revitalizing recreation opportunities.
Douglas-Fir National Monument, Oregon
This national monument proposal would transfer parts of the Willamette National Forest and adjacent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land into a designated monument for the protection of resources and the significant old-growth forest. The proposal covers 750 square miles and includes trails, scenic drives, and camping opportunities, as outlined by Friends of the Douglas Fir National Monument.
1908 Springfield Race Riot National Monument, Illinois
Part of the African American Civil Rights Network, the 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site is of incredible importance to the U.S., honoring those who fought against discrimination and segregation, as well as the event that led to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). A national monument designation would formally honor this legacy, writes the Illinois Senate Delegation.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Illinois
The Cahokia Mounds are recognized as a National Historic Landmark, an Illinois State Historic Site, and a World Heritage Site by the United Nations (UNESCO), which currently gives some limited protections. However, Illinois senators are asking for national monument designation to further protect this archeological and culturally important site from new roads and development that are threatening some of the mounds.
If you want to support the designation of these national monuments, visit the below links.
- Sign a letter of support for Castner Range National Monument.
- Sign the petition for the proposed Avi Kwa Ame (Spirit Mountain) National Monument.
- Donate to or volunteer with Unite the Parks to support the Range of Light National Monument.
- Donate to Friends of Douglas-Fir National Monument.
- Encourage your senators to support the Springfield Race Riot National Monument Act by giving feedback on the bill.
- Donate to or volunteer with the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.