The largest mammoths to roam the earth received some recognition Friday when President Barack Obama designated an excavation site and park in Waco, Texas as a national monument.
“This is one of the most incredible collections of mammoth fossils anywhere in the country,” Obama said. “And for us to be able to preserve this space is going to be important not only to scientists, but also to many people who are able to take a look at this incredible landscape down in Texas.”
The Waco site was one of three national monument designations Obama made in a signing ceremony at the White House.
“One of the great legacies of this incredible country of ours is our national parks and national monuments,” he said. “It is something that we pass on from generation to generation, preserving the incredible beauty of this nation, but also reminding us of the richness of its history.”
The Waco Mammoth Site takes visitors back in time nearly 65,000 years, and reminds us of our country's connection to the history of our planet.
Former first lady Laura Bush
The Waco Mammoth National Monument is the site of an excavation that holds a large concentration of remains of Columbian mammoths, including a rare nursery herd that appear to have drowned in a gorge. The largest of the mammoths, the elephant-like Columbian mammoths lived 10,000 to 1 million years ago.
Bigger than the better known woolly mammoth, the Columbian mammoths were 13 ft. tall, weighed as much as 20,000 pounds and had enormous tusks.
“This site’s historical significance and educational value have long been a source of pride for the Waco community and the state of Texas,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
“Our national parks inspire and teach us about our nation’s natural history; in this case, about the prehistoric animals that walked our Earth tens of thousands of years ago,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said.
The National Park Service is part of the Interior Department.
“The Waco Mammoth National Monument will share the wonder of these incredible mammoths with visitors from around the world,” Jewell said, “and help introduce a new generation to the thrill of scientific discovery that only a special site like this can demonstrate first-hand.”
Ken Starr, president and chancellor of Baylor University in Waco said, “This is an exciting day for our community and the great state of Texas and one we have been anticipating for many years.”
He called the National Monument status “a testament to the invaluable partnership between the City of Waco, Baylor University and the National Park Service.”
Gayle Lacy, president of the Mammoth Foundation said, “Waco is thrilled to be on the National Park Service map. We have proudly preserved the Mammoth Site in hopes of sharing it with all Americans as a national park site.”
Obama used the Antiquities Act to designate the three sites as national monuments – a law first used by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to preserve historic landscapes.
“Teddy Roosevelt, it’s been said, had America’s best idea when he talked about preserving the incredible national heritage,” said Obama Friday. “And for me to be able to add to that heritage is greatly appreciated.”