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LOS ANGELES — President Barack Obama is granting national monument status to nearly 1.8 million acres of scenic Southern California desert, a move the White House says will maintain in perpetuity the region’s fragile ecosystem and natural resources, as well as provide recreational opportunities for hikers, campers, hunters and others.Obama, in California this week for a fundraising swing, is to make the announcement Friday.In all, he will name three specific regions national monuments — Mojave Trails, Castle Mountains (both in the Mojave Desert) and Sand to Snow in the Sonoran Desert.
The federal Antiquities Act, adopted in 1906, grants the president the authority to protect landmarks, structures, and objects of historic or scientific interest by designating them as National Monuments.
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Castle Mountains National Monument, also in the Mojave Desert, links two mountain ranges as it covers nearly 21,000 acres that hold numerous important Native American archaeological sites.
The area is also home to golden eagles, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and other wildlife.
Sand to Snow National Monument rises from the floor of the Sonoran Desert to the 11,503-foot peak of Mount San Gorgonio, Southern California’s tallest alpine peak.
Its diverse landscape includes the headwaters of the state’s Santa Ana and Whitewater rivers and is home to 240 species of birds and 12 endangered or threatened species of wildlife.