The Truth About National Monuments

What is a National Monument?

A National Monument is a parcel of land that is set aside by a president who utilizes the Antiquities Act. The land is different from a national park, which can be created by an act of congress, in that monuments are often protected due to their historical, cultural or scientific value more than scenic or recreational worth. 

National Monuments are managed by the National Parks Service, United States Forest Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Defense of the Bureau of Land Management. Monuments are incredibly diverse, and often require management by an organization that understands an area's current uses and needs.

National monument designations can include recreational uses like camping, hunting, fishing, riding motorized vehicles, hiking and biking. Previously existing rights are protected as well, and can include oil and gas leases, access to private property, mining claims, roads, utility infrastructure and livestock grazing. 

Although the goal of a national monument designation is conservation, the managing organization builds goals for the area based on current uses and future needs. Local input is used to create a comprehensive plan that benefits as many people as possible, while protecting this historical, cultural, or scientific value of the area. 

National Monuments in Utah

Twelve national monuments have been designated in Utah. Out of Utah's Mighty Five tourism campaign, four national parks began as monuments (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Capitol Reef). In a single year at Zion National Park, visitors spent $202 million and created 2,800 jobs. Ten years after the designation of Grand Staircase-Escalante, population only grew 8%, while job growth grew 38% and personal income grew 40%. In short, monuments and parks result in an economic swing in favor of local communities.