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President Biden designated two new national monuments on Tuesday: the Spirit Mountain area in southern Nevada and Castner Range in West Texas.
The Avi Kwa Ame National Monument will span about 506,000 acres. Its namesake mountain, Avi Kwa Ame, which means “Spirit Mountain” in the Mojave language, reaches a peak of 5,963 feet. The area is considered sacred by several Native American tribes, and also contains one of the world’s largest Joshua tree forests.
The Castner Range National Monument in El Paso, Texas, which consists of 6,672 acres of “high-desert mountains,” was home to several Native American tribes, including the Apache and Pueblo peoples, before it served as a training and testing site for the U.S. Army until 1966. Its designation as a national monument, the White House said, “will protect the cultural, scientific and historic objects found within the monument’s boundaries, honor our veterans, servicemembers, and Tribal Nations, and expand access to outdoor recreation on our public lands.”
National monuments are “nationally significant lands and waters set aside for permanent protection,” the National Parks Conservation Association explains, and can only be created using land already owned by the federal government. Unlike national parks, which are created by legislation passed by Congress, national monuments can be created by U.S. presidents via authority granted to them in the Antiquities Act of 1906. Since the act was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt, over 150 national monuments have been created by 18 presidents.
Check out the photos of the new monuments below.
Castner Range becomes a National Monument today!
10,000 years of human history in one of the most beautiful places on the planet will now be preserved forever.
THANK YOU President Biden, Rep. Escobar and the El Paso community (Judy Ackerman, I know you’re smiling up there)! pic.twitter.com/PlL75qM5ii
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) March 21, 2023