ASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday created three new national monuments, in Texas, Nevada and California, spanning more than 1 million acres. The move, he said, helps preserve America’s beauty, but Republicans condemned it as a “surreptitious land grab.”
Acting under a 1906 federal law called the Antiquities Act, Obama established Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in California, the Waco Mammoth National Monument in Texas and the Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada.
The White House said Obama has used that law, which allows a president to create national monuments at his “discretion,” to establish or expand 19 national monuments and has protected more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters, more than any other president.
During a White House Oval Office ceremony, Obama said America’s national parks and national monuments are “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.”
Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, House Natural Resources Committee chairman, said Obama showed “complete disdain for Congress and the people of Nevada, California and Texas” by acting unilaterally.
“This surreptitious land grab reveals that the Obama administration will stop at nothing to lock up more and more land, with the stroke of a pen. I condemn this shameful power move,” Bishop said.
Fellow Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz said presidents should be barred from using the Antiquities Act within any county that has enacted a land-management plan.
The Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada covers 704,000 acres of public land and includes Native American rock art dating back 4,000 years.
The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument spans 331,000 acres of public land in northern California, stretching across nearly 100 miles and dozens of ecosystems.
Waco Mammoth National Monument features well-preserved 65,000-year-old remains of 24 Columbian mammoths