President Obama names Utah, Nevada monuments despite opposition

FILE PHOTO - This July 15, 2016, file photo, U.S. The "Moonhouse" in McLoyd Canyon, near Blanding, Utah, is shown during U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell tour. The Utah Wildlife Board is joining a chorus of state-level opposition to the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – President Barack Obama has designated two new national monuments in Utah and Nevada at sites that have become key flashpoints over public land in the U.S. West.

The announcement Wednesday marks the administration’s latest move to protect environmentally sensitive areas in its final days.

The White House says Bears Ears National Monument in Utah will cover 1.35 million acres of tribal land in the Four Corners region. A coalition of tribes pushed to ensure protections for lands that are home to an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.

Critics called it another layer of unnecessary federal control that would close the area to development and recreation.

The 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument outside Las Vegas also was named. It’s an ecologically fragile area near where Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy led an armed standoff with government agents in 2014.




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