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President Biden on Tuesday will designate two new national monuments at Nevada’s Avi Kwa Ame and Texas’s Castner Range and will also take a step toward the designation of a national marine sanctuary.
The Avi Kwa Ame monument in Southern Nevada will include the peak also known as Spirit Mountain, which is part of the creation story of several tribal nations. The area is a desert landscape that contains a Joshua tree forest and fauna including the desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise and Gila monster.
It is considered to be one of the most sacred places by the Mojave, Chemehuevi and some Southern Paiute people and is also sacred to other indigenous groups.
Castner Range, in the El Paso area, was a training and testing site for the Army during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The monument Biden is designating Tuesday will include 6,672 acres of the Franklin Mountain range. It is home to species including the Mexican Poppy flower.
Biden will also direct the Commerce Department to consider designating a new marine sanctuary to protect all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands southwest of Hawaii.
There is already a marine national monument around about 495,000 square miles of open ocean, coral reef and island habitats in the area, but a White House fact sheet says that the new monument would include that as well as “areas unaddressed by previous administrations so all areas of U.S. jurisdiction around the islands, atolls, and reef of the Pacific Remote Islands will be protected.”
Biden is expected to make the announcements during a conservation summit that will be held at the Interior Department on Tuesday.
The moves come about a week after the Biden administration angered many environmentalists by making the controversial decision to approve the Willow Project, a major oil-drilling proposal in Alaska.
Asked during a White House press briefing Monday whether the administration was sending mixed signals on the environment, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the Willow approval came as a result of “legal constraints.”
On the other hand, she said, Tuesday’s summit is “about building on the president’s historic climate and conservation record.”
Biden previously said in November that he would at some point move ahead with the Avi Kwa Ame designation.
In addition to the new designations, the Biden administration is expected to release an Ocean Climate Plan that calls for steps like expanding offshore wind energy, making shipping more environmentally friendly, sequestering carbon dioxide in ocean rocks and habitats.
The White House is also issuing a guidance aimed at promoting habitat connectedness in the decisions made by federal agencies as part of an effort to maintain biodiversity.
And it is announcing an effort to preserve green space around military installations.