As one of his last major public land initiatives, Pres. Clinton is preparing to designate up to a dozen areas in the West as national monuments, with the aim of protecting the wild lands from commercial development and recreational overuse. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said the administration has decided to act because Congress has failed to take up proposed legislation that would accomplish the same thing. Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, Pres. Clinton can designate national monuments without congressional approval, though he raised the ire of many Western lawmakers in 1996 by invoking the act to create the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
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