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Joe Biden to designate national monuments in Nevada, Texas

WASHINGTON (AP) – United States (US) President Joe Biden is establishing national monuments in Nevada and Texas and creating a marine sanctuary in US waters near the Pacific Remote Islands southwest of Hawaii.

The Democratic president announced the measures yesterday at a White House summit on conservation action at the Interior Department.

Biden said in November that he intends to designate Avi Kwa Ame, a desert mountain in southern Nevada that’s considered sacred to Native Americans, as a national monument.

The site spans more than 202,000 hectares and includes Spirit Mountain, a peak northwest of Laughlin called Avi Kwa Ame (ah-VEE’ kwa-meh) by the Fort Mojave Tribe and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The rugged landscape near the Arizona and California state lines is home to bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and a large concentration of Joshua trees, some of which are more than 900 years old.

In Texas, Biden plans to create the Castner Range National Monument in El Paso. The designation will protect the cultural, scientific and historic objects found within the monument’s boundaries, honour US veterans, service members and tribal nations, and expand access to outdoor recreation on public lands, the White House said.

Teddybear Chollas are seen within the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, near Searchlight, Nevada in United States. PHOTO: AP

Located on Fort Bliss, Castner Range served as a training and testing site for the US Army during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The Army ceased training at the site and closed Castner Range in 1966.

Together, the two new national monuments protect nearly 514,000 acres of public lands.

In the Pacific, Biden will direct the Commerce Department to consider initiating a new national marine sanctuary designation within 30 days to protect all US waters around the Pacific Remote Islands. If completed, the new sanctuary would help ensure the US reaches Biden’s goal to conserve at least 30 per cent of ocean waters under US jurisdiction by 2030, the White House said.

Biden also will announce a series of steps to conserve, restore and expand access to public lands and waters across the country, the White House said. The proposals seek to modernise management of America’s public lands, harness the power of the ocean to help fight climate change, and better conserve wildlife corridors.

Biden also will propose new spending to improve access to outdoor recreation, promote tribal conservation and reduce wildfire risk.

Biden’s actions come as he faces sharp criticism from environmental groups and youth activists over his approval of the huge Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.

Biden has made fighting global warming a central part of his agenda, and White House officials have defended efforts to put the United States on track to meet Biden’s goal to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.