The nation’s national parks and monuments are the first step to achieving a “full, functioning national parks system,” President Donald Trump said in an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
He said the new effort to build parks, monuments and other historic structures in the country’s national park system, which spans nearly 4.6 million acres in 20 states and territories, would begin in 2019 and be completed in 2024.
The U.S. is still working to finish a planned 3,000-mile rail line connecting Washington, D.C., to the East Coast that would bring thousands of people to the nation’s capital.
In his address, Trump acknowledged that the nation needed to start working to preserve the nations parks, including national monuments and historic sites.
The parks are unique places where people come and go, he said.
He pledged to make sure the monuments and parks remain a place of enduring importance.
“The United States of America is the land of opportunity, and its our job to create the parks and their treasures, to nurture the land and the spirit of their people and to protect the places where they have been for generations,” Trump said.
“In the years to come, we will begin to take the great treasures of our national parks into the future, for the benefit of future generations.”
He added that he would also “make it a priority to secure, protect and preserve” all the nation s national monuments.
The president also announced the formation of the National Park Preservation Commission, which will work with state and local governments to design and implement park management and management strategies.
Trump said the commission would be responsible for overseeing the preservation of historic and cultural resources.
“We will ensure that these sites are open to the public and remain accessible for future generations, so that our future generations can enjoy them,” he said in his speech.
“These parks are our home, our home is our country.”
In his speech, Trump also pledged to preserve and restore the historic Old Manzanar National Monument in Arizona, one of the last of the Grand Canyon National Parks in the United State.
The Grand Canyon is one of five monuments in the National Monument system, and is protected by the Antiquities Act.
Trump has been working to protect and restore portions of the monument since he took office.
“It is our duty to make the Old Manzar National monument a place for future visitors and visitors from around the world,” Trump told lawmakers.
“And we will do so as we work to make our country safe and secure, protecting our monuments and the people who love them.”
He said he would nominate a special envoy to help develop the strategy for the monument.
The National Park Service, which oversees the parks, will continue to work to protect historic and archeological sites throughout the country, including the Great Lakes and Great Sand Dunes National Parks, as well as the nation-owned sites at Lake Mead in Arizona and Grand Canyon in California.
The agency said it will also continue to “advance and protect the Great Plains National Park.”
In a statement, the National Parks Conservation Association said the president’s announcement was “historic and monumental.”
“The National Park System has been and continues to be a great success story that has created a diverse, resilient and beautiful system of parks and preserves across our nation, and it’s only natural that presidents and other public officials would want to expand and protect these sites, especially in the face of global threats like climate change and the impact of human migration,” the statement said.
Trump also announced a $1.4 billion investment in historic preservation.
The President said the National Historic Preservation Act, which established the Antiquity Act, would help preserve the park system.
“Through this law, we can restore the value and the pride of our Nation to the American people by ensuring that the Antiquites, the world’s largest and most powerful civilization, has the resources, the knowledge and the capacity to preserve our nations unique heritage, and to create a national park that serves as a model for others,” Trump stated.