President Obama has just designated the Waco Mammoth site as a national monument.

“This is one of the most incredible collections of mammoth fossils anywhere in the country. 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, Obama said before signing the order in the Oval Office, flanked by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and officials from the Forest Service, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management.

He noted that predecessor Teddy Roosevelt was a huge advocate of national parks and monuments and said he felt honored to expand on the tradition.

“One of the great legacies of this incredible country of ours is our national parks and national monuments.  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,” Obama said.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the deputy GOP leader, lauded the designation, which he has sought for several years through legislation.

“This site’s historical significance and educational value have long been a source of pride for the Waco community and the state of Texas,” Cornyn said. “Through the dedicated work of the city, Baylor University, and the Waco Mammoth Foundation, this national recognition will enhance the public’s awareness of this unique treasure and ensure its preservation for generations to come.”

The site holds the largest concentration of Columbian mammoth remains in North America.  Two Waco residents spotted bones in a ravine in 1978, and skeletons of 24 mammoths have since been identified, ranging from age 3 to 55, and dating to about 68,000 years ago.