President Obama has announced and made official the designation of three new national monuments, covering over a million acres in California, Texas, and Nevada.
Using his executive branch power to preserve our nations precious public land, Obama invoked the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt when he signed the official designations in the Oval Office on Friday.
The new preserved monuments include the Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, the paleontological Waco Mammoth site in Texas, and the Basin and Range in Nevada. The White House announced that the sites in Nevada include rock art that dates back over 4,000 years.
The designations were made under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and bring Obama’s national monument establishment count to 19, covering over 260 million acres of public lands and waters.
Mr. Obama has used the power to preserve U.S. sites of historical, ecological, or cultural significance more than any other president, something republicans often criticize him for.
Nonetheless, the president feels strongly about taking advantage of this form of power.
“One of the great legacies of this incredible country of ours is our national parks and national monuments,” he said. “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.”
Taking a look at the new monuments, it is clear to see that Obama chose them with good reason.
California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is called a “biodiversity hot spot” by the administration. Covering about 331,000 acres in Northern California, it includes dozens of ecosystems as well as Native American cultural sites.
The Waco Mammoth National Monument in Texas is a paleontological site including well-preserved remains of Colombian mammoths from over 65,000 years ago, including our nation’s only recorded discovery of a nursery herd of mammoths. The site also contains remains of other Pleistocene-epoch animals, such as the Western camel, the saber-toothed cat, and the giant tortoise.
Located less than two hours from Las Vegas, Nevada, the Basin and Range National Monument covers about 704,000 acres and contains many cultural sites. These sites include petroglyph and prehistoric rock art panels, as well as an extremely large abstract sculpture that artist, Michael Heizer, has been working on in the desert since the 1970s. The sculpture, titled “City”, is considered a vital part of American history as an example of the America land-art movement.