New monuments added to Obama’s legacy

President Obama has added two new national monuments in Utah and Nevada. These places are sacred tribal sites. In Obama’s time in office, he has created 29 national monuments, encompassing 553 million acres of land. The two new additions include the Bears Ears monument in Utah (approximately 1.35 million acres) and Gold Butte in Nevada (300,000 acres).

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Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.

In a statement issued by President Obama he declared two new national monuments in Utah and Nevada “To protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archaeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes.”

In Utah,  Bears Ears will have management input for a national monument through an inter-tribal commission, including the Hopi, Navajo, Uintah and Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Pueblo of Zuni to protect remnants of Pueblo sites.

“We have always looked to Bears Ears as a place of refuge, as a place where we can gather herbs and medicinal plants, and a place of prayer and sacredness,” Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation, said in a call with reporters Wednesday. “These places — the rocks, the wind, the land — they are living, breathing things that deserve timely and lasting protection.”

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Falling man petroglyph area in Gold Butte, Utah.

Obama used the 1906 Antiquities Act to cordon the lands off for oil and gas exploration, drilling and mining, undermining President-elect Trump’s powers to reverse the designations. Trump has been clear in his plan expand oil drilling and mining across the country.

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