White Sands becomes New Mexico’s newest national park

December 21, 2020 was White Sands’ first full day as a national park after President Donald Trump signed a bill designating the status into law.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which included North Korea sanctions and procurement for spacecraft and weapons, also made 275 square miles of gypsum dune fields into New Mexico’s second national park.

Carlsbad Caverns is the state’s other national park. New Mexico has two historical national parks — Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Pecos National Historical Park. The state also has 12 national monuments, including Bandelier near White Rock and El Malpais near Grants.

According to the National Park Service’s website, national parks are protected because of their scenic, inspirational, educational and recreational value. Monuments have objects of historical, cultural or scientific interest.

White Sands National Monument was established Jan. 18, 1933, by a proclamation from President Herbert Hoover on his last day in office.

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