Support for National Monuments
National monuments tell the story of our nation and shape our character. For more than a century presidents from both parties have used the Antiquities Act to rise above the politics of their day and better protect our national treasures like the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon. Today millions of people recreate, retreat and recharge in America’s national monuments and other public lands.
National monuments have also proven to be an economic boon for local communities. Studies by Headwaters Economics have shown that communities near national monuments saw an increase in income and jobs after the monuments were designated.
Unsurprisingly there is broad public support for existing national monuments like Fort Monroe in Virginia, which received bipartisan support from federal and local elected officials, diverse citizen groups and the conservation community before and after the President’s designation late last year. There is also support for designating new national monuments to permanently protect some of our country’s remaining wonders.
The latest polling to confirm this broad support comes out of New Mexico. Sixty-two percent of New Mexicans surveyed in a Sierra Club, Project New America poll favored designating additional public lands as national monuments, with 37% strongly favoring the idea. When asked about one of New Mexico’s specific natural wonders, Rio Grande del Norte, support was an even higher at 67%. In addition, 3 in 4 Hispanic respondents favored the creation of a new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
The findings of this poll confirm those of previous polls—there is strong support for national monuments and public lands. President Obama’s first two monument designations, Fort Monroe in Virginia and Fort Ord in California were greeted with widespread praise. There is a similar desire from other communities across the country to see their special pieces of America protected as national monuments. We hope President Obama will listen to their calls and build his legacy on public lands by continuing to create new national monuments.