In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (16 January 2017), today President Obama is designating three new national monuments honoring our country’s civil rights history and taking new steps to promote diversity in our national parks and other public lands. Building on the Administration’s commitment to protecting places that are culturally and historically significant and that reflect the story of all Americans, today’s designations will protect historic sites in Alabama and South Carolina that played an important role in American history stretching from the Civil War to the civil rights movement.
The new monuments are the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, Freedom Riders National Monument and Reconstruction Era National Monument.
Protection for these sites is strongly supported by the local communities, elected officials, and a wide variety of stakeholders including civil rights organizations, environmental justice groups and historic preservation groups. Each designation was also supported by legislation introduced by members of the Alabama and South Carolina delegations.
Promoting Diversity and Inclusivity in Managing Our Public Lands and Water
President Obama is taking new steps to promote diversity and inclusivity in our nation’s system of national parks, national forests, monuments and other public lands and waters. Today, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the agencies charged with managing the vast majority of America’s public lands and waters – the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – to work to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to experience our great outdoors and engage in decisions about how our public lands and waters are managed. The Memorandum also directs agencies to prioritize building a more inclusive Federal workforce that is reflective of the diversity of our Nation.
Expansion of National Monuments Protecting Natural Resources in California and Oregon
In addition to the new designations honoring African American history, today, President Obama is expanding two existing national monuments to protect critical biodiversity, important historic and natural resources and vital wildlife habitat in California and Oregon.
Expansion of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument: Located in southwest Oregon and northern California, the current Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument protects the significant biodiversity at the intersection of three distinct bioregions, including wildlife habitat for nearly 200 species of birds. Drawing from two different reports compiled by the scientific community as well as a legislation introduced in the Senate in 2015, today’s expansion will protect more than 42,000 additional acres of public land in Oregon and approximately 5,000 acres in California to increase vital habitat connectivity, watershed protection, and landscape-scale resilience for the area’s unique biological values, particularly in the face of growing impacts from climate change.