President Barack Obama designated three new U.S. national monuments Friday, making those areas off-limits to development, mining, and oil and gas drilling.
The new monuments include Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, home to a wide variety of plant and animal life; Waco Mammoth in Texas, where archaeologists have found the remains of 24 mammoths believed to be at least 65,000 years old; and Nevada's Basin and Range, home to irreplaceable rock art dating back 4,000 years.
The White House said these three monuments encompassed more than 1 million hectares (2.47 million acres). It said the designations would boost the local economies through tourism and related business.
So far, Obama has declared 19 public lands national monuments — more than any other U.S. president — protecting more than 260 million hectares.
The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives presidents the authority to declare public lands off-limits to development. Some critics call it government seizure.
The act is a lasting legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt, a renowned environmentalist and lover of the outdoors.