Five New National Monuments Are Designated
Juliet Eilperin; Washington Post, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
WASHINGTON President Barack Obama defied congressional opposition to designate five new national monuments this week, using his executive authority to put historic sites and wild landscapes in a half-dozen states off limits to development.
The designations affect three areas managed by the National Park Service, including one honoring abolitionist Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in Maryland and a collection of sites commemorating Delaware as the nation's first state. Obama also used his power under the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect two swaths of land under the Bureau of Land Management's control: Washington's San Juan Islands and New Mexico's Rio Grande del Norte.
"These sites honor the pioneering heroes, spectacular landscapes and rich history that have shaped our extraordinary country," Obama said in a statement. "By designating these national monuments today, we will ensure they will continue to inspire and be enjoyed by generations of Americans to come."
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R- Wash., who has opposed the establishment of new wilderness areas and national parks, questioned why the president would extend public lands protection at a time when the federal government is undergoing automatic cuts known as the sequester.
"The Obama administration not only sees the sequester as an opportunity to make automatic spending reductions as painful as possible on the American people, it's also a good time for the president to dictate under a century-old law that the government spend money it doesn't have on property it doesn't even own," Hastings said in a statement.
Conservation Fund President Lawrence Selzer, whose group donated land to help create the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument and Delaware's First State National Monument, said nearly half of the nation's national parks started out as national monument designations. …