WASHINGTON – California lawmakers and interest groups are ramping up efforts to win national-monument designation for four scenic vistas in the state, from vast stretches of the Mojave Desert to redwood stands along the Pacific Coast Highway to canyons and mountains near wine country.
The national monuments designation typically takes lands already owned by the government and walls them off from new mining and roads. Recreational activities such as hiking and horseback riding are commonly allowed, though each national monument has its own dos and don'ts.
Supporters of the proposed monuments are pursuing two paths. The first is through legislation. Many Republicans are wary. So supporters are also pursuing Plan B: Executive action from President Barack Obama.
Presidents have the authority to designate new national monuments, and Obama has approved 16 so far.