President Obama designated millions of historic acres in California, Nevada, and Texas as new national monuments Friday, granting federal protection to Mammoth bones, ancient rock carvings, and some just plain beautiful land. The latest announcement brings the number of national monuments created under Obama to a fat 19. Here’s a quick and dirty guide to the newest protected areas.
Basin and Range National Monument
Nevada now has an additional 700,000 acres of glory under government watch. Just hiking it would make for an inspiring day (or week), but if you do swing through make sure to check out the rare rock art. Researchers say it’s as much as 4,000 years old. When you’re done there, compare it to the modern abstract sculptures artists Michael Heizer has been carving over the last 40 years. Just a thought.
Waco Mammoth National Monument
It’s only fitting Texas gets a site with the biggest mammoth species to ever stomp the dirt. The new monument will keep safe the site of an important archeological find filled with the preserved remains of not just 24 Colombian Mammoths —biggest beasts of the ice age — but saber-toothed cats, dwarf antelopes, and western camels.
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Absolutely nothing about this picture cries out for a Walmart. Now that it’s protected, California can start reaching out to the nature lovers, hunters, and fishermen who can make these 330,000 acres an engine for the local economy without ruining its unique ecology or wrecking the Native American cultural sites.