Obama on Historic Spree: Names Three New National Monuments, 19 Since 2009

Michael Heizer's land-art masterpiece, 'City,' included in the protected lands

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This Waco, Texas site of 65,000-year-old mammoth remains has been named a national monument. (Courtesy: Waco Mammoth Site)

The Snow Mountain Wilderness region of Northern California, 150 miles north of Napa, was one of three new national monuments designated by President Obama today, according to the White House. During his administration, the President has named or expanded a total of 19 national monuments, including the three announced today, under the 1906 Antiquities act passed by Theodore Roosevelt.

Today’s move sets apart about one million acres, according to the Department of the Interior. The areas chosen “demonstrate the wide range of historic and cultural values that make America’s public lands so beloved,” according to a the White House statement.

Since 1906, sixteen U.S. Presidents have declared 142 national monuments under the Act, according to the National Parks Conservation Association, but President Barack Obama has been on something of a expansion and geographic-diversity kick, adding, in recent years a Oahu, Hawaii internment camp for Japanese prisoners of war, the San Juan Islands in Washington State, the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers House in Xenia, Ohio, Browns Canyon in Colorado and a Chicago site, among others, to a list that includes the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon (a controversial pick at the time).

Berryessa Snow Mountain

The Berryessa Snow Mountain region of Northern California was designated a national monument today. (Courtesy: Department of the Interior)

“The Antiquities Act allows the President to reserve or withdraw federal lands containing objects of historic, scientific, or scenic significance, as well as objects of scientific research, to prevent them from potential harm, e.g. commercial development, looting, habitat preservation,” according to the National Parks Conservation Association.

While the designation does not automatically guarantee federal funding or management, most of the monuments are run by the National Parks administration.

The other two named today are Waco, Texas’ Mammoth remains, a paleontological site that features the remains of 22 mammoths, mothers and their children, drowned 65,000 years ago. It opened to the public in 2009.

The third was the “Basin and Range” region relatively near Las Vegas, Nevada, “an iconic American landscape that includes rock art dating back 4,000 years,” according to the White House—it also includes a famous land-art installation, “City” by artist Michael Heizer.

 

  Obama on Historic Spree: Names Three New National Monuments, 19 Since 2009