White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico is now our 62nd and newest National Park.
President Donald J. Trump made it official on Friday when he signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which included a provision on the re-designation of White Sands.
“Our staff are very excited for White Sands to be recognized as a national park and to reintroduce ourselves to the American public,” White Sands Superintendent Marie Sauter said in a statement. “We are so appreciative of our partners, local communities, and congressional leaders who made this achievement possible and look forward to continued success working together.”
White Sands National Monument was established on Jan. 18, 1933 by President Herbert Hoover to preserve “the white sands and additional features of scenic, scientific, and educational interest.”
The world’s largest gypsum dunefield is more than 275 square miles and includes the world’s largest collection of Ice Age fossilized footprints.
There are more visitors to White Sands than to every other park service location in New Mexico. In 2017, White Sands logged more than 600,000 visits and spurred more than $31 million in spending for the local economy, according to the Associated Press.
In addition to the new designation as a National Park, it should be noted that the federal legislation included provisions for a land exchange between White Sands and the U.S. Army, which operates an adjacent missile range.
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