President Obama Designates New National Monuments
From the White House:
As part of the Administration’s commitment to protect our country’s significant outdoor spaces for the benefit of future generations, today President Obama will announce the creation of three new national monuments that demonstrate the wide range of historic and cultural values that make America’s public lands so beloved.
The new monuments are:
- Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, a landscape containing rare biodiversity and an abundance of recreational opportunities;
- Waco Mammoth in Texas, a significant paleontological site featuring well-preserved remains of 24 Columbian Mammoths; and
- Basin and Range in Nevada, an iconic American landscape that includes rock art dating back 4,000 years and serves as an irreplaceable resource for archaeologists, historians, and ecologists.
Together, the new monuments protect over one million acres of public land. These monuments will also provide a boost to local economies by attracting visitors and generating more revenue and jobs for local communities, further supporting an outdoor recreation industry that already generates $646 billion in consumer spending each year.
With these new designations, President Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 19 national monuments. Altogether, he has protected more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any other President – as well as preserved 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.
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.
Background on Antiquities Act Designations
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.