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US President Obama's New Executive Order Protects 1.65M Acres of Land Of Sacred Sites, Habitats

Jan 04, 2017 08:50 AM EST

Outgoing US President Barack Obama has just issued an executive order that creates two new national monuments in Utah and Nevada, essentially protecting 1.65-million acres of land from development. The order will hope to protect sacred archaeologically important Native American sites, wildlife habitats, hiking trails and hunting grounds.

According to a White House statement. Obama said these two national monuments will be able to protect some of the country's "most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archaeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes."

The actions will help protect the cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate the scenic and historic landscapes.

The executive order came two weeks after an oil spill near the location of the Standing Rock protesters were fighting to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline that can destroy sacred land belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

According to Science Alert, the faulty pipeline has leaked 176,000 gallons of crude oil into a creek and the surrounding countryside 2.5 hours away from the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota.

The two new monuments, one covering 1.35-million acres around Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah, and the other covering 300,000 acres around Gold Butte in Nevada, will hopefully stop similar accidents in the future.Obama was able to create the monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows him to protect areas of historic importance.

Science Alert notes that both of the newly-designated monuments have been proposed for a while. The government has been reportedly trying to make the area around the Bears Ears Buttes federally protected since 1936 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was n office, and Native American tribes have been asking for protection around Gold Butte since 2008.

Not everyone is happy about the changes, though. Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz from Utah told the New York Times that the President's unilateral decision politicizes a long-shimmering conflict. He added it's a "slap" in the face of the people of Utah as it attempts to "silence the voices of those who will bear the heavy burden it imposes." 

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