Press Release Oct 27, 2018

Kentucky’s Camp Nelson Receives National Park Status

Camp Nelson National Monument will become the second national park site to commemorate African American history in Kentucky.

WASHINGTON, DC – On Friday, President Trump designated Camp Nelson National Historic Landmark as a national monument, using the Antiquities Act - one of our nation’s most important conservation laws.

Camp Nelson in Nicholasville, Kentucky served as one of the largest recruitment and training depots for United States Colored Troops. More than 23,000 African Americans from Kentucky served in the U.S. military and were recruited and trained at Camp Nelson during the Civil War. The history of Camp Nelson demonstrates the challenges formerly enslaved people faced as they began their lives as free men and women, and the ambivalence the federal government demonstrated when confronted with refugees of the slave system.

Our nations parks and national monuments, protected under the Antiquities Act, safeguard our shared history and most treasured landscapes. The Antiquities Act has been used by an equal number of Republican and Democratic Presidents since it was signed into law, more than a century ago.

This designation is at odds with the Trump administration’s attack on national monuments, which began with the president’s April 2017 Executive Order. The administration’s animosity toward this important law was most pronounced when it was used to dismantled Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments in December 2017.

Camp Nelson National Monument will become the second national park site to commemorate African American history in Kentucky.

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association:

“Camp Nelson is where thousands of men and women risked their lives in their quest for freedom and equality. Their sacrifices helped shape our nation and its legacy and undoubtedly deserves to be honored and protected by the National Park Service. The story of America is evolving, and our National Park System is well-poised to reflect this growth by telling the stories of the Civil War and our nation’s ongoing struggle for civil rights.

“We must preserve African American history in our national parks and protected public lands. And the Antiquities Act is a critical tool to continue to preserve special places that define who we are as a nation and that better reflect our diverse and evolving population.

“It is ironic that this administration would use the same law to protect this site after arbitrarily gutting protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. NPCA is among the many tribal, environmental and business allies challenging the administration’s actions in court, hoping to return permanent protections for these places that preserve our history and protect our irreplaceable natural and cultural lands.

“We will continue to work to protect the law that provides millions of people the opportunity to learn from and experience these amazing places.”


About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit

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