Obama to name five national monuments

The Washington Post

President Barack Obama on Monday will announce five new national monuments that will be added to the U.S. list of protected land.

In a rare invocation of his executive powers, Obama will designate the First State National Monument in Delaware. He also is expected to designate a site on Maryland’s Eastern Shore as a national monument to commemorate famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, a White House official said.

The three other sites Obama will name are the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio and the San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state.

Obama is using the authority he is accorded by the Antiquities Act, which presidents have exercised for more than a century to protect natural and historic sites such as the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.

The last Congress failed to pass legislation creating new national parks.

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Dorchester County, Maryland, honoring the native Marylander who escaped slavery and then helped guide other slaves to freedom, will be the first national monument commemorating an African-American woman.

The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument will protect a wildlife habitat prized by hunters, and create rafting and camping areas. The New Mexico site will also highlight the southwest’s Hispanic and Native American tribal heritage.

In Xenia, Ohio, Obama will commemorate the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument on the site of the family home of Col. Charles Young, an army officer who was only the third African-American to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, and the first to achieve the rank of colonel.

The First State National Monument will include several historic properties as well as part of the Brandywine Valley along Delaware’s border with Pennsylvania. The park will honor the state’s early settlement by Dutch, English and Swedish immigrants.

With Monday’s announcement, the National Park Service will now cover every state, as Delaware will becomes the 50th to have a national monument — a longtime priority for Vice President Joe Biden, a former senator from Delaware.