What is a national monument?
A “national monument” established by the President protects “objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated on lands owned or controlled by the Federal Government” (54 U.S.C. § 320301, known as the Antiquities Act). If the national monument is administered by the National Park Service (NPS), as many national monuments are, it is subject to the same laws and policies as govern other units of the National Park System. Thus, an NPS national monument established by the President is a protected area similar to a national park, administered for the protection and enjoyment of its resources and values.
How does an area become a national monument?
To be established by the President, the area must meet the criteria of the Antiquities Act (54 U.S.C § 320301), including having objects of historic or scientific interest located on land already owned or controlled by the Federal government. The views of the public are carefully considered in the process. National monuments can also be created by Congress. These national monuments are established under their own enabling statutes, rather than the Antiquities Act.
National monuments can be administered by Federal agencies other than NPS. The Presidential proclamation or Congressionally-enacted statute creating the national monument typically indicates which Federal agency will administer it.