Half of our national parks started as monuments

The official transfer of land east of Baxter State Park from Roxanne Quimby’s holding company, Elliotsville Plantation, to the federal government on Tuesday morning appears to indicate that a national monument designation is on the way.

Opponents of the proposal have long argued that presidential designation of the land as a national monument would make a full park designation inevitable.

It has happened plenty of times before.

More than half, or 32, of all 59 national parks either began as national monuments or have incorporated land given that designation. About half started as national monuments.

The move would put the land alongside 25 other designated national monuments around the country — possibly more, depending on what may be in store for the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary Thursday.

It’s hard to draw conclusions about how long a possible move from monument to park might take. Not only is there Congress to consult, but past experience shows a wide variety of results.

For the 32 national parks that began as national monuments, an average of 32 years elapsed between that designation and the establishment of a national park. Within that, the transition has taken as little as one year and as many as 105, with the establishment of Pinnacles National Park in California, in 2013.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.