With a stroke of the pen President Obama has unilaterally declared vast swaths of land in Utah and Nevada as two new national monuments, thus putting them under control of the federal government.
Startlingly, the area in Nevada includes the site of the infamous Bundy Ranch standoff as well as land very close to the Bundy Ranch itself. With this move Obama has possibly triggered another armed standoff while also heading off any moves set to be made by incoming president Donald Trump.
A “fact sheet” put out by the White House reads:
Today, President Obama will designate two new national monuments, protecting sacred sites, spectacular scenery, and important natural and cultural resources in the desert landscapes of southeastern Utah and southern Nevada. The creation of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada follow years of robust public input from tribes, local elected officials, and diverse stakeholders, and draws from legislation introduced in Congress.
In addition to protecting more land and water than any Administration in history, President Obama has taken unprecedented steps to elevate the voices of Native peoples in the management of our natural resources. Today’s actions build on this important work, and further demonstrate the President’s commitment to protecting sacred sites and our land, water and wildlife for future generations.