LOS ANGELES (AP) — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has asked President Barack Obama to bypass Congress and create three national monuments in the California desert.
The California Democrat’s proposals would give federal protection to more than 1,560 square miles of mountain ranges, sandy expanses and forests running roughly between Palm Springs and the Nevada border, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
The area is home to mountain lions, the California desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, fringe-toed lizards and more than 250 species of birds.
Feinstein has been unable to move the proposals through Congress, amid conflicts among off-roaders, hunters, environmentalists, and mining and renewable-energy interests. The Times said she decided to ask Obama to act unilaterally to create the monuments.
“Despite strong support from the many stakeholders in the desert, from conservation groups, off-road recreation supporters, counties, energy companies, water districts, business groups and tribes, we have not been able to move it in the Senate, and the House has yet to introduce the version I’m told they’ve been working on for months,” Feinstein said.
In a letter this month, she asked Obama to designate monuments known as Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains.
Feinstein said she has not given up on winning congressional approval. Her request to the White House applies pressure on Congress and the various interest groups to resolve their differences or face presidential action in which they have little voice.
Presidents dating back to Theodore Roosevelt have used the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect “objects of historic or scientific interest.” Critics say the act has been abused by presidents of both parties to unreasonably deny the public the right to use the land in a multitude of ways.