Biden declares national monuments in Nevada and Texas

Biden declares national monuments in Nevada and Texas

The two new national monuments protect nearly 514,000 acres of public lands.

President Joe Biden declared national monuments in Nevada and Texas, creating a marine sanctuary in U.S. waters near remote Pacific islands southwest of Hawaii.

Biden said in November that he intends to designate Avi Kwa Ame, a desert mountain in southern Nevada that is considered sacred to Native Americans, as a national monument. The site encompasses more than 500,000 acres and includes Spirit Mountain, a peak northwest of Laughlin called Avi Kwa Ame (ah-VEE’ kwa-meh) by the Fort Mojave tribe and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The rugged landscape near the Arizona and California state borders is home to bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and a large concentration of Joshua Trees, some of which are more than 900 years old.

In Texas, Biden named the Castner Range in El Paso a national monument. The designation will protect cultural, scientific and historical artifacts within the monument’s boundaries, honor U.S. veterans, service members and tribal nations, and expand access to outdoor recreation on public lands, the White House said.

Located at Fort Bliss, Castner Range served as a training and testing site for the U.S. Army during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The Army stopped training at the site and closed Castner Range in 1966.

Together, the two new national monuments protect nearly 514,000 acres of public lands.

Biden’s actions come as he faces heavy criticism from environmental groups and youth activists for his approval of the massive Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo weighed in on the appointments and stressed that neither the president’s administration nor the White House consulted him on declaring Avi Kwa Ame a national monument.

“I contacted the White House to raise several concerns citing the potential for terminal disruption of land mining projects and the long-planned bipartisan economic development effort. While I am still waiting for a response, I am not surprised (by their action),” Lombardo stated.

For its part, Clark County said they are working to review President Biden’s designation to better understand the impact to the region.

This would be the fourth national monument in the state of Nevada.

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