Over the objections of many local, state and federal legislators from the affected areas, in early July, President Barack Obama designated new national monuments in California, Nevada and Texas.
The designation of more than 1,000,000 acres of public lands as national monuments, foreclosed previously allowed commercial and recreational activities of those lands, leading some Republicans and local officials to accuse Obama of a backdoor land grab ignoring the interests of local residents.
Obama’s designation of Nevada’s Basin and Range site as a national monument was seen as a going away present to retiring Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, who had been seeking monument status for the area for years. Obama also set aside more than 330,000 acres as the Berryessa Snow Mountain Monument in Northern California. In addition, the President established the Waco Mammoth National Monument, a comparatively small site in central Texas, where archaeologists have discovered remains of 24 Columbian Mammoths as well as the remains of other ancient species including the saber-toothed cat, dwarf antelope and the western camel.