Quote of the Month:

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own." - Charles Dickens

Washington National Monuments

Parent Category: Washington Parks & Refuges
Created: 30 March 2016

 Photo of Mount St. Helens from Elk Rock Viewpoint

The extensive network of State and National Parks attracts most of the attention of the tourists and local visitors, and Wildlife Refuges become the beloved places of bird-fanciers. And among all this variety of incredibly beautiful places National Monuments look sometimes forgotten and much less visited. For many people it’s even hard to define national parks and national monuments, as they are somewhat similar, but there is still a difference between them.

Each country gives its own definition to the notion of a national monument. In the United States a national monument is defined as a natural landmark, historic place or a structure, presenting some historic or sometimes scientific interest, assigned for preservation by the presidential proclamation by using the Antiquities Act of 1906. Though the most part of the national monuments was found by US presidents, the Congress betweenwhiles has also established some of the national monuments.

The national monuments are administered by different federal agencies (solitary or jointly with other agencies), among which are the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service as well as Department of Energy, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Armed Forces Retirement Home, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Chavez Center.

On September 24, 1906 the President Theodore Roosevelt became the creator of the first national monument. It was Devils Tower National Monument (Wyoming). Since then almost every president has used the Antiquities Act of 1906 for the establishment of the national monuments. The number of the United States National Monuments within these almost 110 years has grown up to 120. The most recent ones are Sand to Snow National Monument, Castle Mountains National Monument and Mojave Trails National Monument in California, designated by the President Barack Obama in February, 2016.

The State of Washington is proud to be home for three National Monuments: Hanford Reach National Monument, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and San Juan Islands National Monument.


Hanford Reach National Monument

Hanford Reach National Monument was established in 2000 by a proclamation of the President Bill Clinton. The 195,000-acre area of this National Monument consists mostly of the buffer zone territory around the Hanford Site (or as it is also known – Hanford Nuclear Reservation) – a place, where the first in the world full-fledged plutonium reactors were constructed and operated, which were used for the manufacturing of the first nuclear bombs. 

The main purpose of the creation of Hanford Reach National Monument, which stretches through 4 Washington Counties (Grant, Benton, Adams and Franklin) was to preserve the unique landscape with diverse flora and fauna, as well as historically significant remnants and reminders of the Cold War.

The National Monument is managed and administered mostly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in accordance with the permits and agreements with the Department of Energy, and by the Department of Energy itself.

 Photo of Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is probably the best-known and the most often visited one out of three Washington State National Monuments, located less than 100 miles southward of Seattle. 

The eruption of Mount St. Helens volcano on May 18, 1980 became the most catastrophic and destructive for the economy volcanic eruption in the American history, which took lives of 57 people and changed the area around Mount St. Helens beyond recognition. 

In 1982 Ronald Reagan decided to set aside Mount St. Helens and the territories surrounding it for research and educational purposes. Thus on August 27, 1982 Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was established, occupying the territory of 110,000 acres in 3 Washington counties (Skamania, Lewis and Cowlitz). 

Nowadays this National Volcanic Monument accepts more than 500,000 visitors annually and has a wide range of recreational and interpretational options. At visitors’ disposal is Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake, Johnston Ridge Observatory, Science and Learning Center at Coldwater, viewing points at Bear Meadows and Windy Ridge as well as numerous hiking trails and various climbing possibilities. 

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monuments is administered and operated by the U.S. Forest Service, but there are debates going on to give Mount St. Helens the status of National Park.


San Juan Islands National Monument

San Juan Islands National Monument is “the youngest” National Monument of Washington State, established only 3 years ago on March 25, 2013 by the Proclamation of President Barack Obama. 

The Monument includes 75 sites within the San Juan Islands archipelago, which bear significant cultural, historical and scientific importance. The total area of San Juan Islands National Monument amounts approximately to 1,000 acres and stretches over the territories of San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom Counties. 

The Monument is operated by the Bureau of Land Management.

Visiting San Juan Islands National Monument will provide you not only with the tour through the historic sites and structures, but also with spectacular views and possibility of wildlife watching, as the diversity of wildlife species of that area is really incredible.




Photo: Roman Khomlyak

Information: Svetlana Baranova

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