President Barack Obama has once again used the Antiquities Act to designate three new national monuments, protecting more than 1 million acres of public land.
The latest monuments make 19 total designations, amounting to more than 260 million acres of public lands and waterways that the Obama Administration has protected using the Antiquities Act.
The sites include 331,000 acres of the Berryessa Snow Mountain in Northern California’s inner coastal range where Native Americans lived going back 11,000 years. At Waco Mammoth, monument status protects an area where wooly mammoths were once discovered. And the newly named Basin and Range National Monument preserves 704,000 acres where early pioneers ranched and mined. It also has Native American rock art, one of the largest natural sculptures, and it’s extremely remote.
Republicans who would like to see much of this land protected but open to economic uses have cried foul, saying the President is circumventing Congress.
“Following the example of Jimmy Carter, the Obama Administration is using and abusing the Antiquities Act as a political weapon,” Rep Bob Bishop (R-Utah) wrote in a statement.
The White House, meanwhile, points to the use of the act by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. “…(these) preserved sites 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,” the statement read.
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