Obama Declares Monuments to Preserve Pieces of U.S. Heritage

President Obama has declared five new national monuments across the country, from Washington State to Maryland.

The newcomers range from an ancient canyon in New Mexico to a 480-acre (194-hectare) property in Maryland where the courageous abolitionist Harriet Tubman helped to free runaway slaves.

National monuments do not have the same status as national parks, but once a site is designated as a national monument, Congress has the authority to designate it a national park. Nearly half of today's national parks began as national monuments.

Under the Antiquities Act, a President can protect public land without waiting for Congress to pass legislation. The first President to use this prerogative was Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1906 protected the flat-topped volcanic formation Devils Tower in Wyoming. Since then, 16 presidents have established national monuments, with President Clinton

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