Speed Reads

Public Domain

Biden to create 2 national monuments in Texas and Nevada honoring Army veterans, Native Americans

President Biden on Tuesday will designate two new national monuments in Nevada and Texas, protecting 514,000 acres of public lands — two thirds the size of Rhode Island — from development. Biden will announce the new national monuments at the White House Conservation in Action Summit at the Interior Department.

The smaller Castner Range National Monument, on Fort Bliss in El Paso, will encompass 6,600 acres that were used by the U.S. Army for military training and testing from World War II through 1966. In southern Nevada, Biden is setting aside some 500,000 acres of mountainous desert, including Spirit Mountain, as the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. Avi Kwa Ame is the Mojave name for Spirit Mountain, which is already protected under the Wilderness Act of 1964. The area is sacred to the Fort Mojave, Cocopah, Quechan‌‌, and Hopi peoples.

The White House says the Castner Range National Monument will preserve cultural, scientific, and archeological objects, honor U.S. veterans and service members, and — once unexploded ordnance is cleared from the area — expand outdoor recreation access in the El Paso region. The Avi Kwa Ame National Monument will link California's Mojave National Preserve and Castle Mountains National Monument to the Lake Meade and Sloan Canyon national recreation areas in Arizona and Nevada, helping preserve bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, Gila monsters, and some of the biggest and oldest Joshua trees in the country. 

Biden will also instruct Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Tuesday to consider creating a new National Marine Sanctuary in the waters around the Pacific Remote Islands southwest of Hawaii. "If completed, the new sanctuary would help ensure the U.S. reaches Biden's goal to conserve at least 30 percent of ocean waters under U.S. jurisdiction by 2030," The Associated Press reports

Presidents can designate national monuments without congressional action through the Antiquities Act of 1906. Biden created his first national monument, the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument on a World War II training ground in Colorado, in October 2022. In 2021, he restored protections for Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument located off the coast of Massachusetts, all three of which were shrunk by former President Donald Trump.