Monumental.
Monumental.
Shutterstock / Mariia Sats

President Barack Obama doesn’t just think the San Juan Islands are awesome. He thinks they are monumentally awesome.

Obama today will announce the designation of five new national monuments, including nearly 1,000 acres on the San Juan archipelago off the coast of Washington state.

That will more than double his monument-designating tally under the 1906 Antiquities Act to a total of nine.

From The Seattle Times:

The lands that islanders had sought to preserve are already federally owned and overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. While there were no apparent plans for the government to sell or develop the properties, the monument designation offers virtual certainty they will remain protected in perpetuity.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, credited “years of persistence” by environmental and business leaders who built a coalition to campaign for the monument.

A national monument is a lot like a national park, except that the president can designate one without the approval of Congress. Other national monuments include the Statue of Liberty in New York City and the Muir Woods north of San Francisco. There are about 100 in all.

Here are the national monuments being protected today, from USA Today:

  • The San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state
  • First State National Monument in Delaware
  • The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico
  • Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio
  • A monument commemorating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway in Maryland

Having gained lots of experience handing public land over to energy companies to drill and pollute, Obama today offers an overdue nod to wilderness and American history.