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50 Years Conserving America's Natural Heritage

Dedication Ceremony at Buzzardroost Rock-Lynx Prairie, OH – 1967 Dedication Ceremony at Big Bone Lick, KY – 2009 Dedication Ceremony at Bergen-Byron Swamp, NY – 1965 Dedication Ceremony at Ashfall Fossil Beds, NE – 2006 Dedication Ceremony at Manatee Springs, FL – 1971 Dedication Ceremony at Chazy Fossil Reef, VT – 2009 Dedication Ceremony at Indian Springs Trace Fossil Site, CO – 1979 Dedication Ceremony at Nottingham Park Serpentine Barrens, PA – 2009 Dedication Ceremony at Irvine Ranch, CA – 2006 Dedication Ceremony at The Island, OR – 2012

The National Natural Landmarks (NNL) Program marks a milestone in 2012, celebrating 50 years of supporting conservation of America's natural heritage.

Former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall—who left an impressive legacy as a protector of America's landscapes—established the National Natural Landmarks Program on May 18, 1962. Former National Park Service Director Conrad Wirth articulated, "These natural geological and ecological exhibits or sites worthy of national landmark status are important for the illustration of the basic geological and ecological story of America."

Since 1962, 593 National Natural Landmarks have been designated in 48 states, 3 territories, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Bergen-Byron Swamp in New York and Buzzardroost Rock-Lynx Prairie in Ohio were among the earliest NNLs designated by Secretary Udall during the 1960's. Ice Mountain in West Virginia and Lake Shasta Caverns in California, designated by Secretary Ken Salazar in April of
2012, are the most recent additions to the roster of elite natural
areas having earned NNL designation.

NNL 50th Anniversary Poster
NNL 50th Anniversary Poster. Click for larger image.

For the past 50 years, it has been the mission of the NNL Program to support and encourage the conservation of outstanding examples of the nation's natural landscape. "This program not only encourages preservation of our nation's natural heritage, it works to expand our scientific understanding of these unique places," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "Some of the landmarks are the best remaining examples of a type of feature in our nation—sometimes in the world—and we should continue to recognize and support conservation of these important natural features."

As the National Park Service prepares to enter its second century, the National Natural Landmarks Program will continue its work to extend the benefits of conservation through voluntary partnerships across public and private lands, and to help communities protect their special places.

Last Updated: May 17, 2012