President Barack Obama announced last week that he will designate three new national monuments, permanently protecting more than one million acres of public lands. He designated pristine wilderness landscapes in Nevada as Basin and Range National Monument, scenic mountains in California as Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, and a fossil-rich site in Texas as Waco Mammoth National Monument.
With these designations, President Obama is adding to the 16 national monuments he has already created with his authority under the Antiquities Act, setting aside “more public lands and waters than any administration in history.” Both Democratic and Republican presidents have used their authority under the law to designate national monuments, many of which have later become some of the country’s most iconic national parks such as the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and Arches National Park.
A diverse array of groups praised the announcement, emphasizing that the new monuments were a response to years of local support and advocacy to permanently protect these sites.
“By creating these three new national monuments, President Obama is continuing his commitment to preserving America’s treasured places and cementing his well-deserved place in conservation history,” Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters told the Hill. “The president acted in response to the overwhelming support expressed by local communities and stakeholders across the country for protecting these places of extraordinary environmental, historic, and scientific value.”