President Obama designates three new national monuments under the Antiquities Act

Obama has protected more public lands and waters than any other President

This panoramic view of the southwestern United States and Pacific Ocean was taken by an astronaut looking out at an angle from the International Space Station (ISS). While most unmanned satellites view the Earth from a nadir perspective—collecting data while looking “straight down”—astronauts onboard the ISS can acquire imagery at a wide range of viewing angles using handheld digital cameras.
This panoramic view of the southwestern United States and Pacific Ocean was taken by an astronaut looking out at an angle from the International Space Station over the Basin and Range province, part of which is now set aside as a new national monument. Photo via NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The three new national monuments designated last week by President Obama under the Antiquities Act will protect more than 1 million acres of public land in Texas, Nevada and California.

With the designations — Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, Waco Mammoth in Texas and Basin and Range in Nevada — Obama has established or expanded 19 national monuments, protecting  more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any other President.

And more than any previous administration, Obama’s land-protection efforts have focused on designating sites that help tell the story of significant people or extraordinary events in American history, such as Cèsar E. Chàvez National Monument in California, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland, and Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio.

Conservation advocates are ecstatic over the latest round of national monument designations, saying that they’ll  provide a boost to local economies by attracting visitors and generating more revenue and jobs for local communities through tourism and outdoor recreation.

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in California:

This monument encompasses nearly 331,000 acres of public land in the heart of northern California’s Inner Coast Range.  Rising from near sea level in the south to over 7,000 feet in the mountainous north, and stretching across nearly 100 miles and dozens of ecosystems, the area possesses a richness of species that is among the highest in California and has established the area as a biodiversity hotspot.

Native Americans have inhabited the region for at least the last 11,000 years, and the monument will protect cultural sites emblematic of this important heritage.  The area supplies water for millions of people and supports a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, off-highway vehicle use, horseback riding, mountain biking and rafting.

An independent economic report found that a monument designation is likely to increase visitation and could generate an additional $26 million in economic activity for local communities over five years.  Local city and county governments, recreational, conservation, and cultural preservation groups, local chambers of commerce, and over 200 local businesses have supported protecting the area.  The site will be jointly managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Waco Mammoth National Monument in Texas:

This monument features remains of Columbian Mammoths from over 65,000 years ago, including the nation’s first and only recorded discovery of a nursery herd of mammoths. These unique and well-preserved remains provide superlative opportunities for scientific study, including a rare opportunity to understand the behavior and ecology of the now extinct Columbian Mammoth, a dominant species in North America during the Pleistocene Epoch and the largest of all mammoth species.

The excavation area also has produced remains from other animals of that epoch, including the Western Camel, Saber-toothed Cat, Dwarf Antelope, American Alligator, and giant tortoise.  Local government, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations, and local businesses and tourism offices have demonstrated their strong support for protecting the site.  The site will be managed by the National Park Service in cooperation with the City of Waco and Baylor University.

Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada:

This monument will protect approximately 704,000 acres of public land in of one the most undisturbed corners of the broader Great Basin region.  Less than two hours from Las Vegas, this unbroken expanse attracts recreationists seeking vastness and solitude and provides significant wildlife habitat and migration corridors.

The area tells the story of a rich cultural tradition, from the earliest human inhabitants 13,000 years ago to miners and ranchers in the past century. The monument features an array of cultural sites, including petroglyph and prehistoric rock art panels, and offers exemplary opportunities to further study and understand this unique landscape and its human inhabitants. The area is also home to City, one of the most ambitious examples of the distinctively American land-art movement.

Located on privately-held land in Garden Valley, the work by artist Michael Heizer combines modern abstract architecture and engineering with ancient American aesthetic influences. The monument also allows for the continuation of certain historic uses, including livestock grazing and military use.  Local private landowners, local elected officials, art institutions, conservation and recreation organizations, and representatives from major Nevadan and national businesses have supported protecting the area.  The site will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The Antiquities Act was first used by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.  Since then, 16 presidents have used this authority to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients.

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