Landmark Highlights 2022

Image of marsh site with text
Ruby Marsh NNL, located within Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Nevada, photo by Cindy Joyce.


2022 was a year to celebrate with May 18th marking 60 years since the establishment of the National Natural Landmarks (NNL) Program. Now including over 600 designated sites there is much to highlight and be excited about. Social media posts, celebration events, and outreach products, all provided the opportunity to shine a light on the reason behind the six decades of the program’s success – its partners! Conservation of these significant areas happens because of the dedicated stewardship of hundreds of public and private land stewards. Cheers to 60 years and here’s to 60 more!

Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.
— Stewart Udall (Secretary of the Interior 1961-1969 and creator of the NNL Program)
collage of social media posts
Sampling of the many social media posts celebrating the NNL Program's 60th anniversary.


All Over Social Media

Established in 1962 by Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, landmark owners, managers, and partners across the country took to social media to help share the news and engage in the celebration of six decades of recognizing and supporting the conservation of America’s natural heritage!
social media posts
A few of the posts from Indiana Department of Natural Resources week-long anniversary social media blitz.
Some landmarks launched social media blitzes to capture attention. Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Nature Preserves, dedicated a full week in July to featuring NNL sites that are also State Nature Preserves on Facebook, using it as an opportunity to highlight these sites and remind the public they can visit these special places.
Social media posts from Panola Mountain NNL
National Heritage Areas social media posts and video helping celebrate the NNL Program's 60th anniversary.
The anniversary was also the perfect time to join with extended partners, like National Heritage Areas (NHA), to highlight and celebrate the connections between NHAs and NNLs. Upper Housatonic Valley NHA to took social media to share their partnership with four NNLs (Bartholomew’s Cobble, Beckley Bog, Bingham Pond Bog and Cathedral Pines) in Connecticut, and Arabia Mountain NHA celebrated the program’s anniversary along with their collaboration with Panola Mountain NNL in north central Georgia with production of a feature video.
5_COSW-FL_anniv event
Flyers and web article announcing the free admission event at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary NNL in southern Florida.

Activities, Events & Publications – oh my!

In addition to abundant social media posts, the following are some of the other ways partners helped shine a light on the program throughout the year.

The Audubon Society offered free admission to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary on the program’s anniversary. Visitors to this southern Florida landmark could hike the 2.25-mile boardwalk through the site’s old growth bald cypress forests and attend naturalist’s programs to learn about some of the inhabitants of this nationally significant swamp. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary to hold free admission day - Bonita Springs Florida Weekly

A free 1.2-mile guided nature hike was offered by the Central Indiana Land Trust for visitors to explore and learn about Meltzer Woods NNL, a significant old-growth forest less than a 40-minute drive southeast of Indianapolis.
Group of people standing behind display table
Lynnfield Marsh NNL Spring Art and Earth Day Festival event, (L-R) Patti Fabbri, Chair-Pesticide Awareness Committee; Kirk Mansfield, Conservation Commissioner; Brian Moreira, Chair-Recycling Committee; Mark Preston, Recycling Committee.  Photo by Jennifer Welter.
Some landmarks that were designated in 1972, hosted events to celebrate their landmark’s 50th anniversary along with the NNL Program’s 60th anniversary. The Town of Lynnfield, Massachusetts celebrated these dual milestones at their Spring Art and Earth Day Festival on April 30. Program materials were distributed at this event and during their “Concerts on the Common” 2022 summer series. Bisected by the Saugus River, Lynnfield Marsh NNL, a large cattail marshland, is also a recognized Important Bird Area.
International Bog Day on July 24 provided the perfect opportunity for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to celebrate the Volo Bog Nature Preserve NNL. Located within the Volo Bog State Natural Area in the far northeast corner of the state, this classic northern quaking bog is the featured NNL along with bogs artwork in the 2023 NNL calendar.

Coinciding with Tennessee State Park’s celebration of 85 years of publication of its official magazine, The Tennessee Conservationist, an article in the last issue of 2022 was published highlighting the program anniversary and Tennessee NNLs. Six of the state’s 13 NNLs are managed by the state and protected as State Natural Areas. Tennessee Conservationist Magazine — Tennessee State Parks (

collage of magazine and calendar images
(L) Illinois Department of Natural Resources provides 2023 NNL calendars to visitors of the Volo Bog State Natural Area on July 24, 2022, photo collage courtesy of the state, and (R) magazine cover with feature article about Tennessee NNL sites.
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NNL Program's 60th anniversary video.

Video Rock Stars

In response to a request for video clips, landmark owners and managers answered the call with excitement and creativity! Over 80 video clips were submitted showcasing the scenery from NNLs across the country and including messages about landmark resources and congratulations, gratitude, and cheerful wishes. This provided an incredible wealth of footage from which the NPS’ Natural Resource Office of Communications was able to create a joyful collage video to honor NNL sites across the country, celebrate the program’s 60-year milestone and provide a positive reminder of the importance of conservation and the power of partnerships.

The NNL Program used this video as the primary communication tool on May 18, 2022. The video, posted prominently on the program’s website, was shared on NPS social media accounts, in the NPS’ Green & Gray Report, highlighted in the May 20th edition of This Week at Interior, included in communication outlets internal to all 70,000 Department of Interior employees, and shared with over 700 media outlets nationwide via an NPS News Release.While most of the video clips submitted were utilized to create the celebration video, others can be found featured here on the NNL Program’s website.
stream with trees
North and South Rivers NNL, Massachusetts


Research conducted on the North/South River estuary has led investigators with the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst to redefine how New England salt marshes acquire the sediment that keeps them viable. They discovered that the sediments, vital to building and maintaining salt marsh volume at sufficient height above sea level, are coming predominately from the ocean, not rivers as has been the prevailing theory. Salt marshes, such as those occurring at river-mouth estuaries like the North and South Rivers NNL, provide critical services such as erosion and flood buffering, carbon sequestration, and filtering of pollutants, while offering habitat for a host of birds, marine invertebrates, and fish. Proper understanding of the source of salt marsh sediment has direct implications for their management and protection, especially considering future sea-level rise. Full study details and results were published in the March 2022 Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface (How a Massachusetts Salt Marsh Is Changing What We Know About the New England Coast : NE CASC ( and Sources, Mechanisms, and Timescales of Sediment Delivery to a New England Salt Marsh - Baranes - 2022 - Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface - Wiley Online Library).
image of crayfish with black background and text
Three examples of Shelta Cave crayfish, image source, Cooper and Cooper, Dec 1997, Journal of Cave and Karst Studies.
Shelta Cave was designated an NNL in 1971, in part for its diverse and complex aquatic fauna, including the Shelta Cave crayfish (Orconectes sheltae). While never abundant, this crayfish was regularly observed in the 1960s and early 1970s. However, the cave’s crayfish population and aquatic community collapsed, and it was feared this crayfish had gone extinct. Excursions into the cave by a team of scientists from the University of Alabama in Huntsville from late 2018 through summer 2021 resulted in the rediscovery of this species; one adult female and one adult male were found during surveys, the first observations of this species in 31 years. While the discovery demonstrates that the species is not yet extinct, the crayfish remains critically imperiled. The team has recommended the establishment of a long-term monitoring program to assess trends of the crayfish and other cave fauna over time. The rediscovery also provides hope that other imperiled species thought to be extirpated from Shelta Cave may persist and potentially be rediscovered in the future. Rediscovery and phylogenetic analysis of the Shelta Cave Crayfish (Orconectes sheltae Cooper & Cooper, 1997), a decapod (Decapoda, Cambaridae) endemic to Shelta Cave in northern Alabama, USA (
Rugged mountain top peaks with snow
Aerial view of Arrigetch Peaks NNL.
The Arrigetch Peaks, located in the Brooks Range in Alaska, is an NNL that is also within designated Wilderness and is one of the most visited areas of Gates of the Arctic National Park. Using funds from the NNLP, backcountry rangers designed and implemented a monitoring project in the Arrigetch with three main objectives: to determine levels of impacts in high use recreational areas, establish new study sites to detect changes over time, and to provide a baseline of acceptable change in high use areas. The results of the Arrigetch Brooks Range Impacts Monitoring and repeat photography project highlight the potential for methodically tracking impacted sites in the park in order to inform park management decisions.
Series of three photos showing restoration of a floodplain forest
(L-R) Before, monitoring during, and after restoration of floodplain forest at Bartholomew's Cobble NNL, left and center photos courtesy of The Trustees.
Floodplain forest habitats have been degraded over time through conversion to agricultural fields or housing, and by invasion of non-native plants. At Bartholomew’s Cobble NNL in southwest Massachusetts, over 85-acres of floodplain forest were restored through the Floodplain Forest Restoration Project. Funded by natural resource damage funds from a settlement with General Electric, restoration activities included invasive plant control and the planting of over 1,700 floodplain-adapted tree saplings in three fields during 2011-2013. The trees were numbered, tagged, and monitored (on a 3-year cycle) to determine the success of establishment and growth of the restored floodplain forest. A complete census of trees in 2020, six years post planting, provided valuable insights and recommendations for future restoration projects of this rare, ecologically significant New England natural community. Project details and results were published in the October 2022 issue of the Natural Areas Journal. Major River Floodplain Forest Restoration: A Case Study in Western Massachusetts ( Owned and managed by The Trustees, the Bartholomew’s Cobble NNL hosts a remarkable concentration of fern species, flora, fauna, and significant natural habitats now including 10 more acres of floodplain forest along the Housatonic River.
Two people with tractor in field
Phillip Weldy, stewardship specialist, with Mike Spalding at tree planting adjacent to the old-growth Meltzer Woods. Photo courtesy of Shawndra Miller (Central Indiana Land Trust)
The old growth forest of Meltzer Woods now has a younger sibling. In spring 2022, Central Indiana Land Trust converted an adjacent 35-acre farm field to an up-and-coming forest by planting around 23,000 oak, hickory, and other native tree saplings. Growing well in the fertile soil, the forest will offer transitional habitat as it grows, and over time, extend habitat for species found in the old growth forest, including American toads and colorful fungi like ruby bolete and velvet foot mushrooms, and create additional habitat for the declining West Virginia White Butterfly. Meltzer Woods also has several large specimens of the Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus). This coarse-barked native tree is a member of the legume family found in many parts of the state but is usually widely scattered and not considered a common tree. To help the new planting match the natural character of the old growth forest, seed pods collected from local Kentucky coffee trees are being germinated and will be planted in the reforested area when they are viable. This tree planting effort was supported by the Blue River Community Foundation and is part of Central Indiana Land Trust’s initiative to plant a million trees over the coming decade. A Million Trees | Central Indiana Land Trust ( and Time Lapse: More Tree Planting at Meltzer Woods - YouTube
Boardwalk trail in the forest
Recently renovated boardwalk at Beaverdam Creek Swamp NNL, Alabama.
Beaverdam Creek Swamp, located within the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alabama, was designated an NNL in 1974 as a prime tupelo gum swamp. With funding provided through the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the boardwalk that traverses through the heart of the NNL, underwent reconstruction. The half-mile boardwalk trail meanders through the swamp, providing visitors easy access to an ecosystem type that is typically found much further south. The trail serves at Site #25 on the North Alabama Birding Trail and includes several educational waysides and resting points along the way, ending at the Beaverdam Creek. The newly renovated boardwalk trail officially re-opened to the public on June 15, 2022 and was announced via a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service media advisory.
collage of three photos of people working in rocky desert landscape
(L-R) Before, during, and after trail restoration by local, all women’s California Conservation Crew. Photos courtesy of Bureau of Land Management.
Hiking at Amboy Crater, a recent volcanic cinder cone located in southern California on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, is now more accessible thanks to trail improvements and restoration work completed by a local, all-women’s California Conservation Crew. Improvements include a new ADA-compliant viewing pavilion, installation of switchbacks to lessen the grade of the original trail and restoration of the former trail, making it nearly indiscernible on the landscape. The Amboy Trail, designated the Amboy Crater National Recreation Trail in November of 2020, offers spectacular 360-degree views of the Mojave Desert, including the extensive lava flow resulting from the eruption of Amboy, some of the volcanic characteristics highlighted in this site’s 1973 NNL designation. (
collage of three photos of people working in forest
Rehabilitation of the Burrows trail at Camel’s Hump NNL, VT (L-R) before, trail crew in action (photos by VT FPR - Kathryn Wrigley) and staircase portion of trail after rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation of one of Vermont’s most popular hiking destinations began in the summer of 2022 thanks to historic investments by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and the Green Mountain Club (GMC). GMC, Vermont State Trail Crew, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Northwoods Stewardship Center, and National Civilian Conservation Corps are providing the on-the-ground trail crews for a top-to-bottom rehabilitation of the Burrows Trail, which has been in use for more than a century. Expected to take three years, the project will overhaul the trail by improving design and alleviating path widening and erosion, making it more resilient to increased hiker traffic and precipitation. Located within Camel’s Hump State Park, the Burrows Trail winds over 2 miles before intersecting with the Long Trail, providing access to Camel’s Hump 4,083-foot peak - Vermont’s highest undeveloped summit and designated NNL that supports the state’s second largest extent of alpine-tundra.
view of grassy marshland
John Heinz at Tinicum National Wildlife Refuge.



John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, located in Philadelphia, received $900,000 in federal dollars from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to restore Henderson Marsh. This is one of 40 National Fish Passage Program projects in 23 states and Puerto Rico that was awarded in 2022. Alongside Ducks Unlimited, Eastwick United Community Development Association, and many other conservation partners, the US Fish and Wildlife Service plans to improve water flow to Henderson Marsh by restoring tidal channels and pools. This marsh is currently tidally restricted from Darby Creek, a tributary to the Delaware River. Constructing new openings in the existing berm and excavating 13,000 feet of new or enhanced tidal channels will reestablish a more natural hydrology to the marsh, allowing for fish passage of several migratory species. Additionally, the project will help to ameliorate flooding damage to surrounding communities and expand recreational opportunities for kayaking and fishing. A quarter of this 1,000-acre refuge has the NNL designation, in recognition of it as the largest freshwater tidal wetland in Pennsylvania, including representative tidal marsh flora and fauna. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds help restore urban oasis | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (
View of tall evergreen trees and blue sky
Coastal redwoods at Audubon Canyon Ranch NNL, CA
Located in the San Francisco Bay, a portion of the Martin Griffin Preserve was designated as the Audubon Canyon Ranch NNL in 1968, when at the time, it was the largest known nesting area for great blue herons and great egrets on the Pacific Coast. Since 2013 however, the herons and egrets shifted their nesting location across the Bolinas Lagoon. Audubon Canyon Ranch, an environmental non-profit, continues protection of this important natural area, which provides illustrative examples of five of the major California Coastal plant communities: mixed evergreen forest, redwood forest, chaparral, northern coastal scrub, and grassland, focusing efforts on studying and stewarding the land for resilience in the face of climate driven changes. One such project, in collaboration with International Bird Rescue, is the Heron and Egret Project to monitor nesting abundance and reproductive trends of herons and egrets in the San Francisco Bay Area. Research Partnership: Helping Track Great Egrets With Audubon - International Bird Rescue and Herons & Egrets - Audubon Canyon Ranch
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Ell Pond, RI and Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, MD, 2 NNLs that participate in the Dragonfly Mercury Project share news of the project on social media.

Connected Conservation

For the sixth summer, NNLs participated in sampling for the long-term, landscape-scale Dragonfly Mercury Project. In 2022, four NNL sites (Bear Meadows Natural Area, PA, East Inlet Natural Area, NH, Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge, TX, and Ell Pond, RI) collected larvae from 10 different sampling locations, adding to the data collected at over 160 other sites across the country. All years of dragonfly mercury summary data are available at The Dragonfly Mercury Project Data Dashboard ( and a synopsis of this project can be found in the Summer 2022 Issue of Park Science -- “How an Insect Became a National Park Service Superhero
Four people standing in forest
Partners associated with Bingham Pond Bog NNL meet to discuss the site. (L-R)  Kieran Runne (CT TNC Field Tech), Alexander Novarro (CT TNC Dir. of Stewardship & Ecological Mgmt), Anne Williams (President, Mt. Riga, Inc.), & Deb DiQuinzio (NPS).  Photo by Dan Bolognani (Ex Dir of UHV NHA)

Making Connections

NNL site visits often create the perfect opportunity to bring together multiple partners who share interest in the site’s conservation, as exemplified in the stories below.

Bingham Pond Bog, located in the far northwestern corner of Connecticut, was designated an NNL in 1973 in recognition of the site as an undisturbed, cold northern spruce bog. Located on private land and accessible by permission only, this 91-acre NNL site is situated within nearly 4,300 acres owned by Mt. Riga, Inc., and falls entirely within a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy. The NNL is also within the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, designated by Congress in 2006 to illuminate the diverse historical, cultural, and natural identity of the Upper Housatonic River valley. A 2022 visit to the site by NNL Program staff brought all these partners together to discuss land use and environmental issues, potentially sparking future collaborations.
Group of people in foreground with evergreen trees and tall grass in background
Group photo of partners that came together to discuss post-fire restoration opportunities for Round Top Butte NNL, OR.
The Round Top Butte NNL of southwest Oregon, supports the best remaining assemblage of upland valley grasslands, including an extraordinary mixture of grasslands, shrublands, savanna and forest communities. The natural open character of the oak-pine savanna and grassland mosaic are naturally maintained through periodic fire. However, in September 2020, the South Obenchain Fire burned across the entire site, burning all habitat types. Initial post-burn assessments characterized the entire preserve impacted by high severity fire effects. A 2022 visit by NNL Program staff provided the perfect opportunity to bring the local conservation community together to collectively look at and discuss restoration options for this natural area. Participation in the 2022 site visit included representatives from the Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy (the area’s two landowners), as well as staff from the National Park Service’s Klamath Network Inventory and Monitoring Program, the non-profit Understory Initiative and Oregon State University. The day offered conservation partners the chance to collectively identify next steps for the restoration direction for the site, including data analysis of pre-fire monitoring data, establishment of monitoring protocols, and development of strategies for treating invasive plant species and reestablishing native grass communities.
Logo for Interntaional Year of Cave and Karst

Connecting Through National Celebrations

With the pandemic continuing to limit many in-person events in 2021, the International Year of Caves and Karst (IYCK) was extended a second year and several NNL sites continued to host IYCK events throughout 2022, including the Texas Hydro-Geo Workshop hosted at Cave Without A Name to bring students and professionals together in a field setting for a hands-on learning experience (April); the Fort Stanton Cave Science Conference, held alongside the New Mexico Geological Society Symposium in Socorro to share results and spur future projects for Fort Stanton Cave (April); and International Cave Day celebrations in June at Mark Twain Cave, Lake Shasta Caverns and Cumberland Caverns. Information about these and the hundreds of other IYCK events that occurred over the past couple years can explored here Event Results – April 2022 – IYCK (
Group of people standing by rock with plaque in forest
Social media post announcing and celebrating Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Area's designation as a Network Forest.


National and International Honors

Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Area earned entry into the Old-Growth Forest Network (OGFN) in 2022. Network Forests are old-growth or mature native forests that are protected from commercial logging and open to the public. Located in northwest Pennsylvania within the Allegheny National Forest, Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Area was designated an NNL in 1973 as the largest old-growth forest in the hemlock-white pine/northern hardwood forest regions of North America. It is now one of 185 Network Forests nationwide and joins at least 24 other NNLs previously awarded this status. Every new Network Forest advances OGFN’s goal “to locate and designate at least one protected forest in every county in the United States that can sustain a native forest.” The OGFN also designates Community Forests and Private Forests, recognizing the importance of local communities and private individuals in landscape-scale forest conservation. Old-Growth Forest Network (
Mountain top with plants and rocks
View atop Hawk Mountain NNL, PA
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, located along the Kittatinny Ridge in eastern Pennsylvania, was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 2022 for its important role in both Conservation and Women’s History. Nearly 60 years ago, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary was designated an NNL for its excellent illustration of eastern Appalachian geology and ecology and its outstanding vantage point for observation of concentrated hawk migrations. In 2000, the site became part of the Congressionally designated Schuylkill River Valley National Heritage Area, celebrating the watershed’s cultural, historical, and industrial significance. After more than a decade of effort, Hawk Mountain’s listing on the National Register accentuates the breadth of the site’s natural and cultural significance. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary listed on National Register of Historic Places | Hawk Mountain Sanctuary: Learn Visit Join
Tall jagged rocks with pine trees
Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, photo by Amy Drown.
Garden of the Gods NNL, located in Colorado Springs, made the top-ten in two of Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best lists for 2022. This nationally significant site appears in the number nine spot on the Top World Attractions, alongside the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, and the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain in Rome, and the number two spot for the Top United States Attractions, coming in right behind the Empire State Building. This City of Colorado Springs-owned and managed landmark, designated in 1971, boasts vertically towering red rocks that outstandingly illustrate the character of sedimentary rocks, and the vertical forces that produced the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Top Tourist Attractions in the World - Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Awards
Rocks and trees with fog
Savage Gulf NNL in Tennessee, photo by T. Bonham.

New Additions and Discoveries

Tennessee State Parks welcomed Savage Gulf State Park as the newest park in September 2022, bringing the total number of parks in the state park system to 57. The new state park includes over 19,000 acres, including the 2,600-acre Savage Gulf NNL, designated in 1971 for its old-growth forest, considered some of the best and largest within the mixed mesophytic forest region. Located on the western edge of the Columbia plateau in Grundy and Sequatchie counties, this area also contains remarkable vistas, waterfalls, sandstone cliffs and picturesque gorges. Savage Gulf State Park — Tennessee State Parks (
Dinosaur footprints in rock
Dinosaur tracks on the bed of the Paluxy River that are visible in a typical year in Dinosaur Valley State Park NNL, Texas.
Excessive drought conditions dried up much of the Paluxy River in central Texas for a portion of the summer, unveiling rarely seen dinosaur tracks in Dinosaur Valley State Park. The tracks, left behind by the theropod, Acrocanthosaurus, 113 million years ago, are usually not visible as they are normally covered by water and sediment. Researchers and volunteers collected data and mapped the tracks before they were again naturally covered by water from late summer rains. Designated an NNL in 1968 for its distinct footprints and trackways, these recent discoveries add to the knowledge and understanding of Cretaceous-aged dinosaurs. Dinosaur tracks from 113 million years ago uncovered in Texas during drought : NPR
Group of people in front of observation tower
Refuge manager Lamar Gore, family of James Carroll (the first employee of the Refuge), and community members at the Tinicum Marsh boardwalk, photo provided by USFWS.


On June 30th, 2022, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, America’s first urban refuge, celebrated their 50th anniversary. With children, grandchildren, and relatives of the first employee and manager of the Refuge in attendance, as well as long-time partners and volunteers. Together, they celebrated the grassroots origin of the refuge and shared hopes and goals for the future of community-centered conservation. The event included activities for all, from guided walks on various topics, to a paddling trip and archery. and John Heinz NWR 50th Anniversary Visitor Stories
Group of people next to sign with forest in background
Attendees at the 20th celebration of the Orono Bog boardwalk, photo by Dave Easler.
The 20th anniversary of the Orono Bog Boardwalk was celebrated on August 13, 2022, commemorating two decades of protecting and telling the story of the Orono Bog NNL, a classic northern sphagnum bog located in Bangor and Orono, Maine. Community members and volunteers gathered to hear Ron Davis (Boardwalk founder and first Director), Jerry Longcore (Orono Land Trust representative to the Boardwalk management committee), and Jim Bird (current Boardwalk Director and longtime volunteer) discuss the Boardwalk’s history. Constructed by volunteers in the early aughts to provide recreational and educational access while protecting the fragile bog surface, the wheelchair-friendly Boardwalk was completely refurbished during its second decade. More information about the Orono Bog Boardwalk is available at: Home - Orono Bog Walk - University of Maine (
collage of five nature scenes in Hawaii
Five of the 7 NNLs in Hawaii were designated in 1972, (L-R) ʻĪao Valley (by B. Pardini), North Shore Cliffs, Ko‘olau Range Pali (by J. Lee), Makalawena Marsh, and Mauna Kea.

Quinquagenary Anniversaries

Forty-eight sites were designated as NNLs by Secretary of the Interior Rogers C.B. Morton in 1972 and thus celebrated their quinquagenary anniversary in 2022. Twenty-three sites received the distinction in late June and 25 more in late November of that year. Happy 50th!

State/Territory NNL
Alabama Cathedral Caverns
American Samoa Aunu'u Island
American Samoa Cape Taputapu
American Samoa Fogama'a Crater
American Samoa Le'ala Shoreline
American Samoa Matafao Peak
American Samoa Rainmaker Mountain
American Samoa Vai'ava Strait
Arkansas Mammoth Spring
California Miramar Mounds
Georgia Cason J. Callaway Memorial Forest
Guam Facpi Point
Guam Fouha Point
Guam Mount Lamlam
Guam Puntan Dos Amantes
Hawaii ʻĪao Valley
Hawaii Ko‘olau Range Pali
Hawaii Makalawena Marsh
Hawaii Mauna Kea
Hawaii North Shore Cliffs
Illinois Heron Pond-Little Black Slough Natural Area
Illinois Horseshoe Lake Nature Preserve
Illinois Mississippi Palisades
Illinois Volo Bog Nature Preserve
Illinois Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve
Indiana Donaldson Cave System and Woods
Indiana Rise at Orangeville
Indiana Tolliver Swallowhole
Indiana Wesley Chapel Gulf
Indiana Wyandotte Cave
Massachusetts Acushnet Cedar Swamp
Massachusetts Fannie Stebbins Refuge
Massachusetts Lynnfield Marsh
Massachusetts Poutwater Pond
Missouri Mark Twain and Cameron Caves
Missouri Marvel Cave
Nevada Hot Creek Springs and Marsh
Nevada Ruby Marsh
New Hampshire East Inlet Natural Area
New Hampshire Floating Island
New Hampshire Heath Pond Bog
New Hampshire Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge
New Hampshire Spruce Hole Bog
New York Hart's Woods
Pennsylvania Ferncliff Wildflower and Wildlife Preserve
Pennsylvania Hemlocks Natural Area
Pennsylvania McConnell's Mill State Park
Virginia Great Dismal Swamp
people walking towards buildings in the desert
Rendition of kids attending Camp Borrego, courtesy of the Anza-Borrego Foundation.


Education and Interpretation

Camp Borrego, a 3-day, 2-night outdoor education program for 5th grade students in underserved schools in Imperial and San Diego Counties, started 20 years ago from a partnership between California State Parks and the Anza-Borrego Foundation (ABF) to provide students place-based learning at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Needed safety upgrades shuttered the camp in 2017, however ABF and the park are committed to rebuilding a permanent camp facility to increase impact of this popular and one-of-a-kind desert program, detailed in a new five-year strategic plan. ABF is currently working with state officials to finalize plans for six cabins and a multipurpose room facility, while working to secure funds to expand programs to reach k-12 students, adults, families, park staff, universities and more. Designated an NNL in 1974, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park contains some of the best examples of desert biotic communities of the Colorado Desert and exceeding 640,000 acres in size, this outstanding natural area provides excellent opportunities for immersive education. Learn more about this critical project to reach the next generation of park advocates: Camp Borrego – The Anza-Borrego Foundation (
Graphic with text
National Natural Landmarks as featured on the gameshow Jeopardy.
Is appearing on the game-show Jeopardy a sign that you’ve “made it”?! Airing on December 23, 2021, National Natural Landmarks was a category in the first round. Contestants were challenged with identifying such natural features as craters, caves, dinosaurs, and Diamond Head from descriptions of Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona, Mark Twain and Cameron Caves in, Missouri, pictures of fossil footprints at Dinosaur Trackway in Connecticut, and the iconic volcanic cone easily seen from Honolulu, Hawaii. For an opportunity to double their earnings, contestants needed to know that California is the state containing the most NNLs to correctly answer the “daily double” question.
Collage of artwork pieces
NNL artwork pieces featuring (from L-R) glaciers, springs, bogs, estuaries, fossils and forests.

Illustrating America’s Natural Heritage

In 2022, in celebration of the program’s 60th anniversary, new NNL artwork was released every 60 days over the course of the year. New pieces beautifully illustrate geological and biological features associated with glaciers, springs, bogs, estuaries, fossils, and forests. The Illustrating America’s Natural Heritage collection now includes 14 pieces, representing a broad array of the diversity of natural features. These works, along with information about the natural feature and places where they can be found, are included on the NNL Program website. Artwork - National Natural Landmarks (U.S. National Park Service) (
Group of people standing in front a mastadon wall art
NNL Program staff at Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, SD.


NNL Program staff connected with and reported on 57 NNL sites in FY2022. These periodic contacts with NNL landowners and managers provide opportunities to check in on the status and condition of sites, update contact information, inquire about conservation needs or issues, and identify potential collaboration opportunities.

Program Work Planning

For the first time in three years, NNL Program staff were able to meet in-person for an annual work planning session. Mammoth Site of Hot Springs NNL, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota hosted the team. This site, situated in the southwest corner of the state, is nearby to Cathedral Spires and Limber Pine Natural Area, an NNL within Custer State Park, and Wind Cave National Park. The close proximity of these natural areas provided a great opportunity to visit and engage with managers at all of these areas, sharing information and seeking collaborative opportunities.Contact information for program staff can be found on-line here Contact Us - National Natural Landmarks Program (U.S. National Park Service) (

This report provides a sampling of stories from NNLs across the country for 2022. Thanks to the many landmark owners and managers who are working to conserve these significant areas and for your contributions to this report.

Part of a series of articles titled Landmark Highlights.

Last updated: April 13, 2023