WASHINGTON (UPI) — President Barack Obama is expected to designate three new national monuments in the California desert, a 1.8 million-acre swath nearly doubling the amount of sensitive lands he has protected as president.

The designation on Friday comes after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Obama to use his powers under the Antiquities Act to designate the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains national monuments. The new protected lands connect to 7.6 million acres between Palm Springs and the Nevada border, existing protected lands that contain Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve.

Obama used his authority under the 110-year-old Antiquities Act to create the protected properties. The largest of the lands is Mojave Trails National Monument, 1.6 million acres of federal land and former railroad property along Route 66 between Needles and Ludlow. The other two areas include Native American cultural sites.

Obama has in total protected more than 265 million acres of land and water during his administration, more than any other president.


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