What is a National Natural Landmark?

The National Natural Landmarks Program recognizes and encourages the conservation of sites that contain outstanding biological and geological resources.  Sites are designated by the Secretary of the Interior for their condition, illustrative character, rarity, diversity, and value to science and education.  The National Park Service administers the program and works cooperatively with landowners, managers and partners to promote conservation and appreciation of our nation’s natural heritage.

How are NNLs protected?
NNL protection is achieved primarily through the conservation efforts of the landowners. The National Park Service may also act as an advocate for conservation of the NNL resources if this is requested by the landowners.
What types of natural features are considered for NNL designation?
Natural features include terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems;geological features, exposures, and landforms that record active geological processes or portions of earth history;and fossil evidence of biological evolution. Features fall within major natural history “themes” that can be further subdivided into various sub-themes. For example, subthemes for the overall theme “Lakes, Ponds, and Wetlands” include large deep lakes, large shallow lakes, lakes of complex shape, crater lakes, kettle lake and potholes, oxbow lakes, dune lakes, Sphagnum-bog lakes, lakes fed by thermal streams, tundra lakes and ponds, sinkhole lakes, unusually productive lakes, lakes of high productivity and high clarity, swamps, marshes, bogs, fens, wet meadows, and springs.

Why are NNLs important?
Besides fostering the basic program goals of natural heritage protection and advancing science and education, some NNLs are the best remaining examples of a type of feature in the country and sometimes in the world.
Does the NNL Program operate like the National Historic Landmarks Program or the National Register of Historic Places?
No, there are many important differences. The National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Program is augmented by additional legislation that allows the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to review and comment on federally owned, assisted, or licensed undertakings that may affect properties included or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, which includes all NHLs. The National Register of Historic Places lists sites of national significance and those of state and local significance as well.

Who manages the NNL Program?
The NNL Program is managed by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. For questions please contact the appropriate NNL Coordinator as determined by state.
Is NNL designation permanent?
Yes, although the Secretary of the Interior can remove the NNL designation if the resources for which the site was designated are lost or destroyed. NNL designation may also be removed if it can be shown that there were errors in professional judgment or in the designation process.
Do regulations govern the NNL Program?
Besides fostering the basic program goals of naturaYes. The first program regulations were developed in 1980. The current regulations were revised in the 1990s and published in the Federal Register on May 12, 1999 as 36 CFR Part 62. The NNL Program regulations dictate administration of the program by the National Park Service, but not NNL land use or management. The NNL Federal Regulation can be accessed here.