WASHINGTON, DC, July 10, 2015  (ENS)  – Three new national monuments, protecting a total of more than one million acres of public land in California, Texas and Nevada, were announced today in a ceremony at the U.S Department of the Interior.

Hosting the event was Interior Secretary Sally Jewell who was joined by members of Congress, state and local elected officials, and community members.

With these new designations, President Barack 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.

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 paleontological site featuring well-preserved remains of 24 Columbian Mammoths

* – 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

The White House says these new monuments will provide a boost to local economies by attracting visitors and generating more revenue and jobs, further supporting an outdoor recreation industry that already generates $646 billion in consumer spending each year.

Berryessa Snow Mountain Monument

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.

Jewell

Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell praises President Obama’s designation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain, Waco Mammoth and Basin and Range as national monuments. (Photo courtesy DOI)

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.

“Today’s action honors more than a decade of work by the local community to protect this beautiful landscape,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “The Berryessa Snow Mountain region draws families and outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure, recreation, and the solitude that only nature can provide.

“The President’s action will help boost local economies and ensure that the area’s unique natural, cultural, and recreational resources are protected for generations to come,” she said.

The area supplies water for millions of people and supports hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, off-highway vehicle use, horseback riding, mountain biking and rafting.

The area contains threatened and endangered plants and animals such as northern spotted owls, marten, and fisher. California Coastal Chinook salmon and Northern California steelhead spawn in the area’s waterways.

Berryessa

View of the Berryessa Snow Mountain Monument (Photo by Jim Rose)

“This is an amazing area for the public to get outside and connect with their public lands and the natural environment,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Visitors can get a truly wild experience on this landscape, spending days and even weeks exploring the rugged terrain and finding something new around every corner.”

An independent economic report found that a monument designation here 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

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.

mammoth bones

Waco Mammoth Site (Photo by John W. Schultze)

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 704,000 acres of public land in of one the most pristine corners of the broader Great Basin region.  Less than two hours drive from Las Vegas, this unbroken expanse attracts recreationists seeking vastness and solitude and provides 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.

Basin and Range

Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada (Photo courtesy BLM)

The area is also home to City, an ambitious example of the 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 influences.

This monument allows for the contin uation 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.

Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of National Wildlife Federation, said today, “ermanent protection for Basin and Range will preserve priority sage grouse habitat at a critical time when we’re all working hard to recover this iconic bird and avoid the need for further protections under the Endangered Species Act,” said O’Mara.

Other big game species like elk and mule deer also depend on this same habitat, said O’Mara “making permanent protection for Basin and Range a true win for wildlife and sportsmen and women alike.”

The site will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

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.

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