President Obama designated two national monuments in Utah and Nevada Wednesday as part of the outgoing president’s efforts to secure and expand his environmental legacy, and to possibly bind the hands of President-elect Donald Trump.
The White House announced that The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah will cover 1.35 million acres in the Four Corners region. The move is a victory for Native American tribes and conservationists for whom the land is considered sacred, but sparked intense opposition from Republicans.
“This arrogant act by a lame duck president will not stand,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah., tweeted.
The president also announced a 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument outside Las Vegas that will protect an ecologically fragile area that includes rock art, artifacts and fossils.
“Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes,” Obama said in a statement.
The Gold Butte designation was applauded by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said he was “overjoyed” at the news.