President Clinton created seven new national monuments this morning, protecting about 1 million more acres of federal land. The new monuments, all recommended by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, include 377,000 acres along the Upper Missouri Breaks in Montana; 204,000 acres of grassland in Central California; and 486,000 acres of the Sonoran Desert; as well as other lands in Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In one blow to environmentalists, Babbitt has chosen not to recommend monument status for nearly 1 million acres in southwestern Oregon. He said the area probably merited the protection, but the idea of a Siskiyou Wild Rivers monument hadn’t yet received enough of a public outing. Babbitt asked Clinton instead to approve a two-year moratorium on mining claims on about 700,000 acres of the land. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for President-elect Bush warned that he would review all of Clinton’s “eleventh-hour orders” upon taking office this weekend.
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