From Devils Tower to Mount Rushmore
In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt declared the first national monument: Devils Tower, a 1,267-foot piece of igneous rock jutting out of Wyoming’s prairie. Today, more than 151 national monuments dot the country—ranging from Hawaii’s Papahanaumokuakea, which sprawls for hundreds of thousands of square miles under the Pacific Ocean, to Aztec Ruins in New Mexico. Some, like the Grand Canyon, have gone on to become national parks. Like Obama, President Jimmy Carter incensed many by aggressively utilizing the Antiquities Act. The 39th president created 17 monuments covering 56 million acres of wilderness in Alaska—earning himself the honor of being burned in effigy by Alaskans, who relied on the local oil industry for jobs. Even as the Trump administration dramatically reduces some existing monuments, it has proposed three new national monuments to add to the list, including a 130,000-acre region in Montana adjacent to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Glacier National Park. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says that the administration sees development of federal lands as a means to establish “energy dominance,” but that not all such lands are appropriate for that use.