President Barack Obama designated two national monuments at sites in Utah and Nevada that have become key flashpoints over use of public land in the west, marking the administration’s latest move to protect environmentally sensitive areas in its final weeks.
The Bears Ears national monument in Utah will cover 1.35m acres in the Four Corners region, the White House said. In a victory for Native American tribes and conservationists, the designation protects land that is considered sacred and is home to an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.
It’s a blow for state Republican leaders and many rural residents who fear it will add another layer of unnecessary federal control and close the area to energy development and recreation, a common refrain in the battle over use of the American west’s vast open spaces. (AKA Pillage Resources)