President Obama has named three new national monuments and expanded two others in the final days of his presidential term. After creating two new national monuments in December, Obama used his authority five more times in January, 2017. Obama used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to add to the park system more than any other president, creating or expanding 34 national monuments during his two terms in office.
Three New National Monuments Protecting Civil Rights History
President Obama created the Reconstruction Era National Monument in Beaufort, South Carolina; the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in downtown Birmingham, Alabama; and the Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Alabama.
Reconstruction Era: The Beaufort area was one of the first places in the South where freed slaves could vote, hold property and build churches.
Birmingham Civil Rights: A portion of downtown Birmingham where non-violent protesters to racial injustice and segregation were sprayed with water from high pressure hoses is now protected.
Freedom Riders: A 1961 challenge to discriminatory laws requiring separation of different races in international travel resulted in the firebombing of a bus at this location in Alabama. Subsequently, the Federal Government banned segregation in travel.
Expansion of California Coastal National Monument and Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
President Obama also expanded the California Coastal National Monument by 6,230 acres to protect six additional sites along the California coast. This national monument was created by President Clinton and was already expanded once by President Obama in 2014.
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Southwestern Oregon and California had nearly 48,000 acres added to its area. The expansion was supported to better protect the national monument’s biodiversity and ecosystem from climate change. The 65,000 acre area was also first designated a national monument by President Clinton.