Biden Expands Pair of California Monuments in Conservation Push

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden will expand two national monuments in California on Thursday, protecting nearly 120,000 additional acres from development as part of a White House goal to designate more land and water for conservation than any previous administration.

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The bulk of the newly protected land will enlarge the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument outside Los Angeles, in a move the White House says will enhance outdoor access to nearby underserved and disadvantaged communities. The president will also add nearly 13,700 acres of protected land at Berryessa Snow Mountain, about 60 miles north of the Napa Valley, in Northern California.

The designations mark a political victory for Vice President Kamala Harris, a California native who sponsored legislation when she served in the US Senate to expand the San Gabriel Mountains monument.

“These expansions will increase access to nature, boost our outdoor economy, and honor areas of significance to Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples as we continue to safeguard our public lands for all Americans and for generations to come,” Harris said in a statement.

The designation by Biden under the Antiquities Act can be used to limit new leases for drilling, mining, and grazing – power the president has used aggressively while he campaigns for reelection. Biden has so far expanded seven national monuments and restored protections at three more, while also creating four new national wildlife refuges.

Read More: Biden Limits Oil Drilling Across Alaska’s Petroleum Reserve

In recent weeks his administration finalized a rule that overhauls the way public lands are managed to put conservation on a level playing field with fossil fuel development and other activities. It also issued a regulation ruling out oil leasing and development in more than half of the 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

--With assistance from Jennifer A. Dlouhy.

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