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Obama names five new national monuments, including Southern civil rights sites

Obama names five new national monuments, including Southern civil rights sites

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument will add 42,000 acres of public land in OR and 5,000 acres in California in an effort "to increase vital habitat connectivity, watershed protection, and landscape-scale resilience for the area's unique biological values, particularly in the face of growing impacts from climate change", the White House said. They were made using a 1906 law called the Antiquities Act, which authorized all future presidents to protect historic or natural landmarks on public lands.

But civil rights advocates and conservationists applauded Obama's monument designations on Thursday.

Mayor William Bell and activists from Birmingham's civil rights era gathered at the 16th Street Baptist Church to celebrate the announcement.

The Freedom Riders National Monument includes the Greyhound Bus Station where a racially integrated bus of Freedom Riders attempting to test desegregation was attacked in the spring of 1961.

The third civil rights monument has several sites in Beaufort, South Carolina, where emancipated slaves created a community during the Reconstruction era.

In one of his final conservation acts before leaving the White House next week, President Obama on Thursday granted national monument status to the Coast Dairies property, a 5,800-acre scenic coastal expanse between Santa Cruz and Davenport that stretches for six miles along Highway 1 and features rolling hills, redwood forests and breathtaking ocean views. And if that happens, add it to the list of Trumpian precedents: No president has ever repealed a national monument established by a previous administration.

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Local leaders and tourism officials hope that even more visitors will show up once the site has National Park Service employees to greet visitors and explain the sites. The church was the site of a bombing in 1963 and will be part of the new monument.

The new monuments are important to the civil rights movement - the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, the Freedom Riders National Monument and the Reconstruction Era National Monument. The proclamation came as a surprise, Eilperin and Dennis report, and the site will be the first within the national park system to commemorate Reconstruction. "It is important to us that the new Trump administration upholds these monument designations and prioritizes engaging diverse stakeholders". Those monuments include ones to Latino farmworkers in California; Japanese Americans placed in internment camps in Hawaii; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rioters at New York City's Stonewall Inn; a stop along the Underground Railroad in Maryland; and ancestral Pueblo sites in Colorado and Utah.

The 16 Street Baptist Church will be the focal point of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park.

Meanwhile, in SC, a monument to Reconstruction celebrates the efforts of freed slaves to come to terms with - and move beyond - centuries of oppression, a struggle that was felt by the nation as a whole.

"I am also expanding existing areas for some of our country's treasured and historic natural resources in OR and California today, including stretches of California's scenic coast and unique wildlife habitat in rugged mountain ranges and forests in OR and California", Obama said. The Sons of Confederate Veterans had initially protested the idea of singling out Penn Center, and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis only held a community hearing on the proposal less than a month ago. For one thing, Clyburn said the president can't nullify the Antiquities Act.


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