Center for American Progress

RELEASE: How the Obama Administration Can Create a System of National Parks and Monuments that Better Reflects America’s Increasing Diversity
Press Release

RELEASE: How the Obama Administration Can Create a System of National Parks and Monuments that Better Reflects America’s Increasing Diversity

Washington, D.C. — A new analysis released today by the Center for American Progress’ Public Lands Project and Progress 2050 shows that more can be done to ensure that the nation’s system of national parks and monuments reflects America’s diversity. Only 112 of America’s 460 national parks and monuments recognize the contributions of people of color, women, and other underrepresented communities as one of their primary purposes.

To address this issue, CAP recommends four steps that the Obama administration can take:

  • The president should use his executive authority to protect more places, such as national monuments, that tell the entirety of America’s story.
  • The administration should propose a package of conservation bills for Congress that reflects the president’s commitment to recognizing America’s diversity through the protection of land, history, and cultural sites.
  • The president should appoint a panel known as the “Centennial Heritage Initiative” to provide agencies with recommendations to enhance the diversity of our nation’s national parks and monuments.
  • The Obama administration should engage in expanded dialogue with American Indian and Alaska Native communities about how to create new partnerships and improve the interpretation and stewardship of cultural, historic, and natural resources.

These steps will build on the excellent progress that the Obama administration has already made in ensuring that our nation’s system of national parks and monuments reflects America’s diversity of peoples, cultures, and stories.

“Our national parks and monuments reflect our common history, struggles, and successes, and as such, it should reflect the diversity of our nation and tell the complete American story,” said Vanessa Cárdenas, Vice President of Progress 2050 at CAP. “The Obama administration has taken important steps to ensure that they are more inclusive but more can and should be done to ensure that all Americans of all backgrounds see their experiences in our national parks.”

“Recognizing and engaging diverse communities at our national parks and monuments could be one of the Obama administration’s most important and enduring legacies, especially as we prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, a Senior Fellow at CAP. “With a Congress that has not protected a single new acre of public land in more than five years, the president will need to continue to lead the effort to protect special places that reflect the contributions of all Americans to our history, culture, and society.”

Read the issue brief: Better Reflecting Our Country’s Growing Diversity: Progress Has Been Made, But Work Remains for National Parks and Monuments by Jessica Goad, Matt Lee-Ashley, and Farah Ahmad

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For more information, contact Anne Shoup at ashoup@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7146.