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President Obama's Preservation Plans: What Monument Should He Save Next?

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President Obama has placed more land and water under federal conservation protection than any of his predecessors, and he apparently is far from finished. The Washington Post reports that Obama designated more than 1.8 million acres of California desert for protection on Friday. The creation of three new national monuments—Castle Mountains, Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow—will create a contiguous preservation area in the state, bridging together Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks and the Mojave National Preserve to form the second-largest desert preserve in the world. This comes on the heels of his actions last summer, which preserved land in Nevada, Texas, and California, including the Basin and Range National Monument, which includes artist Michael Heizer's massive "City" installation. And, according to the story, he has additional under consideration for federal protection.

Here are some of the sites or structures supposedly under consideration:

Bears Ears
Last July, leaders of five Native American tribes united to press for the preservation of this 1.9 million acre site in southern Utah on the Colorado Plateau. A diverse landscape containing myriad rivers and canyons, Bears Ears has been a traditional site of religious rituals and healing ceremonies.

Stonewall Inn
Considered the birthplace of LGBT rights, this bar on 51 Christopher Street in New York's Greenwich Village neighborhood was the site of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. A year later, the city's first Gay Pride March was held to commemorate the community's response to a police raid. The building was granted landmark status by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission last summer.

The New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts
Roughly 150 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, this unique underwater habitat, formed around a series of five large canyons and undersea mountains (or seamounts) that can rise 7,000 feet off the ocean floor, contain a diverse underwater ecosystem as well as coral "forests," some of which grow to lengths of seven feet or more. Conservationists have pushed for a National Monument designation for this area, the first such designation in the Atlantic, to protect it from fishing and other commercial activity.

Sewall-Belmont House
An historic home in the nation's capital, located near the Supreme Court and Senate office buildings, this residence was purchased by the National Woman's Party and used as the organization's headquarters beginning in 1929. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974.

Gold Butte
Named after a local mining town, this 360,000-acre tract of desert land in Nevada consists of rugged mountains, sandstone outcroppings and canyons.

In addition, a group of Hawaiians have been pressing the president to expand the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, created by George W. Bush, to 520,000 acres, nine times its current size.

Obama has been designating these sites using the power granted to him by the Antiquities Act of 1906, and has focused on areas that "help foster resilience to climate change" or are "connected to people and communities that have not been historically represented in national parks and other federal sites." These designations are not without controversy; some Republicans lawmakers and conservative critics have said these actions are examples of executive overreach, while protests at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon have brought to light tensions over federal control of large tracts of land out west.

Looking Back at Pullman, Chicago's First National Monument [Curbed]
Preservation Watch archives [Curbed]