Earlier this week, President Obama created two national monuments. The newly preserved land is in Utah and Nevada. But before the transfer of power to President-elect Trump January 20, Obama could also designate 2.5 million acres of land near the Idaho border.
If Obama creates an Owyhee Canyonlands national monument in eastern Oregon, it would be bigger than both of this week’s new designations combined. But that’s a big “if.” The Canyonlands are in Malheur County, one county over from where armed militants occupied a wildlife refuge last winter. The push to create a monument is unwelcome to many in the community, who see the designation as a federal land grab.
But with three weeks left in Obama’s presidency, their concerns may be overruled. So far, the 44th president has created more national monuments than every previous leader – except Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, Obama has the authority to protect federal land without congressional approval – an authority he has used 29 times so far.
Correction: In the original story, the reference to the location of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was incorrect. The refuge is in Harney County, not Malheur County.
Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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