National Monument FAQ

What is a National Monument?

Our public lands are home to places that have shaped our history. These places are an integral part of our country’s history, providing critical habitat for wildlife and acting as places where millions of people go to hike, hunt, fish, and experience the outdoors. National Monuments are protected public lands with unique characteristics that are managed in order to ensure that their natural, historic and cultural values are protected for future generations. Special significance is given to scientific exploration and discovery in National Monuments.

A National Monument is a permanent public land designation that can either be established by Congress through legislation or by the President through use of the Antiquities Act. National Monuments can be managed by one of several federal agencies: the National Park Service, U.S Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the BLM.

How is a National Monument Created?

A national monument can be established by either the president or Congress and can be managed by one of the following agencies: the National Park Service, U.S Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was designation by President Obama using his authority under the Antiquities Act.

What can you do in a National Monument?

As part of the National Conservation Lands managed by the BLM, locals and visitors to the monument will continue to have access to outdoor recreation activities including, but not limited to:

  • Hunting and fishing
  • Horseback riding
  • Hiking, camping and backpacking
  • Riding ATVs and motorized vehicles on designated roads

The national monument also allows for broad access to a variety of uses and honor traditional and existing rights, current and valid leases, grazing and rights-of-way.

  • Ongoing livestock grazing in the area would not be affected, and the issuance of grazing permits would continue.
  • Existing water rights would be maintained.
  • Law enforcement jurisdiction would not change from the current situation or impede Border Patrol and other law enforcement to conduct border security operations.
  • Traditional rights include grazing and herb and traditional plant gathering would be allowed.

What About Local Input?

The national monument designation came in response to calls from the local community in an open and public process. Several bills to protect areas within the monument had been introduced in Congress. In 2012, a community-supported proposal to protect the Organ Mountains and additional public lands, was proposed.

In 2013, Senators Udall and Heinrich introduced a bill to create the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument after considerable consultation with the state land office, ranchers,  water stakeholders, sportsmen and others. In January 2014, Senators Udall and Heinrich held a listening session with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the local community.

The designation had broad support from the local community, Native American and Hispanic leaders, business leaders, sportsmen, veterans, ranchers, faith leaders, archaeologists and numerous local elected leaders.

What is the Antiquities Act?

There are some places in the U.S. that are so iconic they define our culture and history. Such places—like Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty—are designated as National Monuments.

The Antiquities Act is a tool used by the President to grant National Monument status to our publicly federal lands, waters, and cultural and historical treasures.

Established in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents from both parties—from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama—to protect some of our nation’s most beloved natural, cultural, and historical places from Florida to Alaska.

This bipartisan tool is critical for the preservation of our public lands and for recognizing our diverse national mosaic by honoring our American heritage and enhancing our economy by broadening public appeal of our shared public lands to an increasingly diverse American public.