National Park Service
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 10, 2007
36 Sites Apply for the United States World Heritage Tentative List
(Washington, D.C.) --- In hopes of eventually being placed on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List of the world's most significant cultural and natural treasures, the owners or authorized representatives of 36 sites have applied for inclusion on the new candidate, or tentative, list of U.S. World Heritage nominations. If chosen for the tentative list, they will be considered over the coming 10 years for formal nomination by the United States as World Heritage Sites.
White Sands National Monument is among those proposed sites. Currently, only 830 places around the world, including 20 in the U.S., have this recognition. The preparation of a new tentative list, led by the U.S. Department of the Interior, is the first such endeavor in 25 years and signals a new era in U.S. engagement with the World Heritage Convention, following on the re-entry of the U.S. to full membership in UNESCO in 2003.
The applications received are a diverse collection of natural and cultural sites, located in 25 states and one U.S. territory. They include two that are proposed for both natural and cultural values. Their owners include several federal agencies, state governments, private foundations, as well as numerous private owners. In order to be included in the new tentative list, the proposed sites must meet several U.S. legal prerequisites in addition to meeting the stringent UNESCO nomination criteria. Among the U.S. prerequisites is the written agreement from all property owners to the nomination of their property, strong support from stakeholders, including elected officials, and a prior official determination of national significance.
White Sands National Monument received letters of support from Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman. Local support came from State Representative Gloria Vaughn, Alamogordo Mayor Don Carroll, Las Cruces Mayor Bill Mattiace, White Sands Missile Range Director Tom Berard, and the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce.
“I would like to publicly thank those who submitted letters of support for our effort to obtain international recognition for this outstanding resource”, said Monument Superintendent Cliff Spencer. “Although we have a long way to go, the support from such a distinguished group made all the difference in getting White Sands considered.”
The applications were solicited under the direction of the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, by the National Park Service’s Office of International Affairs (OIA). Applications were due by April 1, 2007. All applications received will be screened by OIA and Park Service specialists and undergo professional, technical review by independent experts. OIA will then compile a draft tentative list by the end of summer 2007. In the early fall, a group of advisors, including representatives of relevant federal agencies, convened under the auspices of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO (a federal advisory board staffed by the U.S. State Department) will review the draft tentative list.
Following the group’s review, the draft tentative list will be published in the Federal Register for public comment. The draft final tentative list and any comments received will be forwarded to the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks in early December for final review by the Secretary of the Interior with the goal of submitting the list to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre by February 1, 2008.
Since UNESCO requests countries to wait a year before submitting nominations from their tentative lists, the first U.S. nominations drawn from the new list could go forward by February 1, 2009 and be considered by the World Heritage Committee the following year. The Committee, composed of representatives of 21 nations elected as the governing body of the World Heritage Convention, makes the final decisions on which nominations to accept on the World Heritage List at its annual meeting each summer.
The United States was the prime architect of the World Heritage concept and the first country to ratify the World Heritage Convention, in 1973. The National Park Service manages all or parts of 17 of the 20 U.S. World Heritage Sites, including Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, and the Statue of Liberty, and serves as the principal technical agency for the U.S. Government to the Convention. In 2005, the US was elected to a fourth term on the World Heritage Committee.
For further information, please contact Gerry Gaumer in the National Park Service’s Office of Public Affairs at (202) 208-6843 or Stephen Morris, Chief, Office of International Affairs at (202) 354-1800.The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.