Obama Dedicates Five New National Monuments

Locals and environmentalists are happy about the decision, but others warn that the new monuments arrive just in time for the sequester’s budget cuts

The San Juan Islands in Washington state. Photo: BLMOregon

At lunchtime today, President Obama will declare five new national monuments—one commemorating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in Maryland; the Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico; the San Juan Islands in Washington State; a monument to Charles Young, the leader of the “Buffalo Soldiers,” in Ohio; and the First State National Monument in Delaware and Pennsylvania.

The president (or, more rarely, Congress) designates national monuments to protect “objects of historic or scientific interest.” Before today, President Obama had used this power to create just four monuments. In total, there are more than one hundred, including the Statue of Liberty, Fort Sumter and the Muir Woods.

Before today, though, Delaware didn’t have one.The First State will share the First State National Monument with Pennsylvania, though, as the site includes a historic property that straddles the two states. National Parks Traveler explains:

>Originally acquired by William Penn from the Duke of York in 1682, the 1,100-acre Woodlawn property lies on the banks of the Brandywine River, primarily in Delaware and extending north into Pennsylvania. Nearby, in 1777, General George Washington’s troops defended against British forces in the largest battle of the American Revolution. Since then, the Brandywine Valley’s natural beauty has inspired generations of artists, including acclaimed painter Andrew Wyeth. Today, however, rapid development is squeezing the pristine open spaces that remain.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Rebuilding Dinosaur National Monument’s Visitor Center  
Scaling the Washington Monument 

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