San Juan Islands National Monument
On March 25, 2013, President Obama signed a Proclamation to designate the San Juan Islands National Monument. In his proclamation, the President stated that, "The protection of these lands in the San Juan Islands will maintain their historical and cultural significance and enhance their unique and varied natural and scientific resources, for the benefit of all Americans."
Situated in the northern reaches of Washington State's Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands are a uniquely beautiful archipelago of over 450 islands, rocks, and pinnacles. The new San Juan Islands National Monument encompasses approximately 1,000 acres of land spread across many of these rocks and islands and managed by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management. Drawing visitors from around the world, this is a landscape of unmatched contrasts, where forests seem to spring from gray rock and distant, snow-capped peaks provide the backdrop for sandy beaches. The San Juan Islands National Monument is both a trove of scientific and historic treasures and a classroom for generations of Americans.
The new National Monument contains a wide array of habitats, with woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands intermixed with rocky balds, bluffs, inter-tidal areas, and sandy beaches. In an area with limited fresh water, two wetlands within the new National Monument are one of the more significant freshwater habitats located on public land in the San Juan Islands. This diversity of habitats is critical to supporting an equally varied collection of wildlife, including black-tail deer, river otter, mink, and an array of birdlife such as the threatened marbled murrelet and the recently reintroduced western bluebird. The island marble butterfly, once thought to be extinct, is found only here. Marine mammals, including orcas, seals, and porpoises, attract a regular stream of wildlife watchers.
Nearly 80,000 visitor days are logged each year at the new National Monument. Visitors are attracted by the outstanding wildlife watching opportunities, as well as the chance to visit historic light stations. Fishing, crabbing, shrimping, and kayaking are also popular, as are hiking and camping, though these latter activities are somewhat limited due to the relatively small size of the parcels composing the new monument. The new National Monument is also used by outdoor and environmental education programs designed to help young people gain first-hand experience in a marine environment.