Advocates say the new monument in New Mexico, to be run by the U.S Bureau of Land Management, will contribute an estimated $15 million a year in economic benefits to the area.
The San Juan Islands monument off Washington’s northwest coast includes roughly 1,000 acres of public land already managed by the BLM. Supporters say the designation will protect important cultural and historical areas and safeguard natural areas used for recreation and other purposes.
The Arlington, Va.-based Conservation Fund donated property on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to the National Park Service to help tell the story of Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Tubman escaped slavery at age 27 but returned to Maryland’s Dorchester and Caroline counties to help slaves escape to the North.
The Charles Young monument near Xenia, Ohio, recognizes and celebrates Col. Charles Young, a West Point graduate who was the first black national park superintendent. Young was the highest-ranking black officer in the U.S. Army until his death in 1922.
The new monuments would be the first designated by Obama in his second term. Obama created four national monuments in his first term: The Cesar E. Chavez and Fort Ord national monuments in California; Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia; and Chimney Rock in Colorado.
Supporters called the monument designations especially important at a time of partisan gridlock over wilderness issues. No new wilderness areas were approved in the last Congress, the first time lawmakers have failed to create new wilderness since the 1960s.
“Understanding that Congress is broken, The Wilderness Society is very pleased to see President Obama taking important steps toward putting conservation on equal ground with energy development,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. “Protecting our lands and waters can’t wait.”