Clinton - National Monuments

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National Parks: Clinton Creates, Expands National Monuments

January 2000

Map of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California showing the locations of the National Monuments

United States president Bill Clinton created three new national monuments on January 11, 2000: the Grand Canyon-Parashant and Agua Fria national monuments in Arizona and the California Coastal National Monument in California. Clinton also expanded an existing monument, the Pinnacles National Monument in California. Together, the new monuments added hundreds of thousands of hectares to the U.S. National Park System.

© Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


Exactly 92 years after former United States president Theodore Roosevelt declared Arizona’s Grand Canyon a national monument, President Bill Clinton on January 11, 2000, designated three new national monuments—two in Arizona and one in California. Clinton also significantly expanded an existing California monument. Environmental groups praised the move, but Clinton drew criticism from Arizona governor Jane Dee Hull and others.

Clinton acted under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which authorizes presidents to establish national monuments on federal lands. Many national monuments, such as the Grand Canyon, later became national parks, a designation that offers even greater protection from development and other activities.

The new monuments are as follows:


The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is a 410,000-hectare (1.01 million-acre) area along the northern rim of the Grand Canyon that includes spectacular canyons and cliffs as well as several tributaries of the Colorado River. The new national monument is almost the same size as the adjacent Grand Canyon National Park, although the lands within the monument will have fewer protections than the national park lands. Existing mining and water rights, and most cattle-grazing, hunting, and fishing activities will be unaffected by the designation. However, new mining and water rights will not be granted, and off-road vehicles will be permanently banned from the area.


The Agua Fria National Monument is a 28,800-hectare (71,100-acre) area located 60 km (40 mi) from Phoenix, Arizona. The area encompasses two mesas and contains at least 450 rich archaeological sites, including prehistoric Native American ruins. The Agua Fria National Monument will be subject to the same rules and regulations as the Grand Canyon-Parashant site.


The California Coastal National Monument sets aside thousands of small islands, rocks, and exposed reefs along California’s 1,350-km (840-mi) Pacific coastline. The monument will include all such lands above the high tide mark and will extend 12 nautical miles (26 km/14 mi) out to sea. The area is an important nesting and breeding area for an estimated 200,000 seabirds, as well as a feeding and breeding area for mammals such as sea otters. Existing oil and natural gas rights will be unaffected by Clinton’s designation, but new rights will not be issued. According to federal officials, the fluctuating nature of the landscape makes it impossible to measure the monument in terms of hectares or acres.

Clinton also added 3,220 hectares (7,960 acres) to the existing Pinnacles National Monument, located 105 km (65 mi) from San Jose, California. The expansion, federal officials said, will help protect the existing monument lands.

Speaking at a ceremony on the rim of the Grand Canyon, Clinton invoked Roosevelt’s 1908 decision as his inspiration. "None of you who can see what is behind me can doubt the wisdom of [Roosevelt’s] decision," Clinton said. "And so it is altogether fitting that on this day and in this place we continue that great journey." Quoting Roosevelt, Clinton added, "‘We cannot improve upon this landscape. So the only thing we can add to it is our protection.’"

Hull and all seven members of Arizona’s Republican congressional delegation opposed the two Arizona monuments, complaining of inadequate consultation between federal and local authorities. Other critics, such as Senator Frank Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, have characterized presidential actions under the Antiquities Act as an abuse of executive power. Still others said Clinton’s move was merely an attempt to burnish his image. Clinton denied those allegations and cited a newspaper poll indicating that the majority of Arizona residents supported his decision.

The official Web site of the Arizona Sierra Club features a press release praising Clinton’s actions.

The official Web site of the State of Arizona offers links to Governor Hull's office and other information.

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The material on this web page is mainly from Microsoft Encarta 2000 Yearbook Update.
© Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.



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