America’s National Monuments are an integral part of the nation’s rich history. Stemming from the Antiquities Act of 1906, these national monuments protect billions of acres of land across the country in 31 states and the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Minor Outlying Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Some of these monuments also protect areas of natural significance such as marine and volcanic sites, as well as prehistoric artifacts and ancient ruins. All of these monuments, however, deserve recognition, especially amid a time of controversy and turmoil.
Recently, a great debate has sparked among the nation concerning our national monuments after dozens have been subjected to a “review” process. Conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts, and concerned citizens alike have banded together to comment on this review process in hopes our nation’s monuments aren’t limited in capacity. At the time of this post, 27 are currently under review and may possibly be cut in size. While we await this monumental decision, we’ve crafted a list of reasons why we love national monuments and think you should too!
Offers Impressive Landscapes
In a country where it seems few areas have remained undeveloped, national monuments protect public lands from being commercialized and safe from man’s harm. Because of this, miles of untouched land is available for us to explore and trek through. From stunning rock formations to dense green forests, there are plenty of views to make even the most well-traveled individual swoon.
National monuments are protected land and ocean, which means no commercialization or development can take place here. Because of this protection, plenty of fish, wildlife, and plants species are protected from the risk of having their homes destroyed. Endangered species such as blue, humpback, and false killer whales, the northern spotted owl, and the California red-legged frog all call some of our national monuments home according to Defenders of Wildlife, and are able to ensure their legacy is carried on for years to come.
Promotes Travel & New Experiences
A picture can sometimes be worth 1,000 worlds. When you are leisurely perusing your social media accounts, you may come across a place so beautiful you feel compelled to plan a visit to yourself. Many of our nation’s national monuments evoke this feeling, prompting people to play multi-day trips to visit them. For example, Devil’s Tower attracted close to half a million visitors in 2014 where visitors spent $26,996,400 million in communities near the park. The mere sight of the staggering butte in the Bear Lodge Mountains is enough to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Protects Cultural History
The United States has plenty of history to offer–much of this rich history can be found at National Monuments. Take Bears Ears for example. One of the newest national monuments, established on December 28, 2016 by President Barrack Obama, sprawls across 1.35 million acres of Utah’s majestic red-rock landscape. Part of this landscape includes ancient cliff dwellings and one of the largest collections of tribal artifacts in the West. Thanks to its national monument distinction, these and other historical gems are well-preserved and remain unharmed.
Benefits Local Communities
Each national monument attracts visitors from across the world to visit. They travel far distances and therefore must stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants, hire local tour companies, and may shop at nearby stores. These visitors support the local economy, keeping businesses open and employees paid. By doing so, they are improving and sustaining the local economy. A 2017 study on regions surrounding 17 national monuments found 13 areas grew at similar or faster rates.
Allows You to Disconnect
In a world where we are constantly tethered to our phones, texting our friends and browsing social media, the great outdoors provides a much-needed break from our everyday lives. At national monuments, we have the opportunity to break away from our hectic work schedules and fully enjoy the sights and sounds surrounding us. It can benefit anyone to take a small break from reality, why not take your break at one of our nation’s national monuments.
Presents an Opportunity to Explore a New Place
It can be difficult to find the time, energy, and patience necessary to plan a trip with your family or friends. There may be discussions about where to go, what to see, and can you make the time in your busy schedules to actually do it. Luckily, many national monuments are conveniently located near other places of interest. For example, Grand Staircase Escalante could easily be turned into a road trip to any of Utah’s 5 national parks. A trip to the Statue of Liberty, could be extended to include a tour of New York City. With a little research, you can easily extend your national monument trip to include even more worthwhile landmarks.
Inspires Future Generations
National monuments are undoubtedly beautiful, and provide learning opportunities and sights that evoke pure bliss. They are something anyone can benefit from visiting. However, the younger generation, especially have much to gain by visiting our national monuments. They give children more than just a new sight to see, they also provide them with quality family bonding time, a chance to explore a new place, and the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature. A simple trip can be enough to inspire future generations to make movements and take a stand for our public lands should they need to in the future.
Benefits Outdoor Recreation Businesses
Outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in consumer spending each year and supports 7.6 million jobs in the United States. Protected lands, such as national monuments, draw the outdoor community. These visitors need to purchase proper gear, apparel, and supplies to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. National monuments help fuel and promote interest in trips to these protected places, which in turn help outdoor recreation businesses thrive and flourish.
This short list hardly captures every reason to love national monuments. Find your own reasons to love them by taking a trip yourself!