March 24, 2013
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Conservation Fund commends President Obama for establishing five new national monuments, including two that the Fund has helped make possible: the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Dorchester County, Maryland, and the First State National Monument in Delaware and Pennsylvania. The Fund donated two significant properties to the National Park Service for these monuments.

“The National Park Service is indebted to our long-time partners at The Conservation Fund for their assistance in the creation of these new national monuments in Delaware and Maryland,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Their work on these, and the nearly 200 other projects they have assisted the National Park Service with over the years, once again preserve rich natural and cultural landscapes for the American people.”  

President Obama’s executive proclamation honors, among other American heroes, acclaimed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and then repeatedly returned to guide family, friends, and others North via a secret network of safe houses and meeting points known as the Underground Railroad. To help establish the new monument to Tubman, the Fund donated a 480-acre Maryland property that includes the former home site of Jacob Jackson, a free black who helped her rescue her brothers and is believed to have played an important local role in the Railroad.

In today’s signing, the President also established Delaware’s first national monument, comprised of five historic properties in that state and in neighboring Pennsylvania. While Delaware was the first state in the union, it remained, until today, the last without a national monument or park. The new monument includes an 1,100-acre property, known as Woodlawn, donated by the Fund, using a $20 million gift from the Mt. Cuba Center. The Woodlawn property sits on the Brandywine River, which witnessed the largest battle of the American Revolution and powered colonial mills that provided paper for Benjamin Franklin’s print shop.

Lawrence Selzer, the Fund’s president and CEO, remarked: “The rich history and powerful significance of these lands make them one-of-a-kind gifts to the American people. We’re thrilled to honor Harriet Tubman’s heroism and also excited to help complete the National Park System in our nation’s first state. We’d like to thank President Obama, Secretary Salazar, the state delegations, the National Park Service, Mt. Cuba Center and all the many others who have worked for years to preserve these lands.”

The other national monuments designated today are Río Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio, and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state.

The Antiquities Act provides presidents with executive authority to protect irreplaceable lands and waters by designating them as national monuments. Since 1906, 16 presidents (eight Democrats, eight Republicans) have used the Antiquities Act to protect national icons like the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty. After a national monument is named, Congress has authority to convert the monument to a national park. A diverse team of public and private leaders, with Congressional support, has sought to designate the properties named today, in addition to other lands, as national parks. That effort continues.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states to protect more than 7.5 million acres of land since 1985.