THE BLOG
03/28/2013 11:11 am ET Updated May 28, 2013

Obama's New National Monuments a Win for Future Generations and Local Economies Today

Earlier this week, President Obama took bold leadership by designating five national monuments that together will protect hundreds of thousands of acres of America's natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of future generations while strengthening local economies today. With the stroke of a pen, the president has begun to make his mark on America's long and proud legacy of setting aside our national treasures so our children and grandchildren can have the same opportunities as we do to experience these special places.

Thanks to the help of his outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the President on Monday designated the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, San Juan Islands National Monument off the coast of Washington state, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio, and First State National Monument in Delaware and Pennsylvania.

These monument designations will not only protect some of our nation's most cherished landscapes for future generations, but they will also grow the local economies by bringing in substantial tourism dollars, improving the quality of life, and attracting businesses. That is why local businesses, elected officials, and activists in each of these places supported protecting areas in their community, and it is why President Obama picked these specific places for national monument status.

We are particularly thrilled with President Obama's decision to designate a large-scale national monument at the Rio Grande del Norte, a 240,000 acre site in New Mexico featuring pristine waterways, stunning vistas, excellent hiking trails, and prized backcountry hunting opportunities -- recreational activities that are expected to bring in an additional $15 million to the local economy, once the protections and recognition that goes with national monument status is fully realized.

The San Juan Island National Monument is another remarkable corner of America that future generations will be able to enjoy. Its 1,000 acres are scattered across numerous islands, featuring historic and cultural sites as well as critical wildlife habitat that provide breeding grounds for birds and safe refuges for everything from harbor seal pups to rare plants. This monument designation will no doubt add to the $22.5 billion and 226,000 jobs that the Outdoor Industry Association estimates the recreational industry already contributes to Washington State's economy.

But these designations aren't just about money; they're also about protecting a part of our nation's history. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument is a way to honor Harriet Tubman's contribution to our nation's history as a conductor of the Underground Railroad. President Obama's designation of the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, which is located at the family home of Col. Charles Young in Xenia, Ohio, will honor the life the first African American to reach the rank of Colonel and celebrate a significant part of African-American history and American military history.

And his designation of the First State National Monument not only ensures that five million residents living within 25 miles have access to parklands, but also that we're preserving history by recognizing Delaware's early settlement by Swedish, Dutch, and English immigrants. With the addition of this national monument in Delaware, we now have a national park in all 50 states.

President Obama's leadership this week will protect some truly remarkable places for generations to come, and it is a solid capstone to Secretary Salazar's conservation record. President Obama's second term has only recently begun, but it is off to a great start when it comes to preserving and protecting America's natural and historical treasures. We look forward to continuing our work with the President in the years to come to protect even more of our country's most cherished landscapes.