Biden Expands Two National Monuments in California

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The Biden administration announced plans to expand two national monuments in California: the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

The move, announced on May 2, will add protections to nearly 120,000 acres of land in the state. The expansion contributes to President Joe Biden’s target of conserving and restoring at least 30% of lands and waters in the U.S. by 2030 under the America the Beautiful Initiative.

The expansion of the monuments will preserve areas of cultural and ecological importance.

“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,” Vice President Kamala Harris shared in a statement.

The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, near Los Angeles, will increase by 105,919 acres, adding to an existing 346,177 acres. The area includes habitat for the endangered California condor as well as California spotted owl and Nelson’s bighorn sheep, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Because of increased visits to the park, the administration also announced plans to increase park staff, improve accessibility and reduce pollution, among other investment projects for the national monument.

In northern California, the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument will expand by 13,696 acres, adding to an existing 330,000 acres. As part of this expansion, the ridgeline in the expansion area will be renamed from Walker Ridge to Molok Loyuk, or Condor Ridge. This sacred and ecologically important ridgeline includes rare wetlands, and the lands in the expansion area include nearly 500 native California plant species. The expansion area is also home to wildlife such as tule elk, mountain lions, bald eagles and golden eagles, according to a news release from The White House.

“These expansions honor Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples by protecting sacred ancestral places and their historically important features, while conserving our public lands, protecting scientific features, including critical wildlife habitat and migration corridors, safeguarding clean water, and supporting local economies,” The White House said in a statement.

As The Associated Press reported, critics have argued the expansions would limit resources for agriculture and other uses outside of conservation.

According to The White House statement, these expansions will not impact the state’s or private land owners’ property rights, and any lands under state or private ownership within the expansion areas are not included in the monuments.

The two expansion projects bring the total of national monument expansions under the Biden administration to seven. The administration has also conserved over 41 million acres of U.S. lands and waters so far.

This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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