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Groups Push for More National Monuments as Obama Prepares Exit

Shane McDermott
Arizona Highways

The race is on to win President Barack Obama's attention as he puts some final touches on his environmental legacy.

Conservation groups, American Indian tribes and lawmakers are pushing him to preserve millions of acres as national monuments. That designation often prevents new drilling and mining on public lands, or the construction of new roads and utility lines.

The flurry of activity is creating enthusiasm — and tensions — in parts of the country.

Serious efforts are underway in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Maine and elsewhere to create new national monuments. Proponents also are looking to protect vast swaths of ocean bottom off the coasts of New England, California and Hawaii.

Obama has created or expanded 24 national monuments, the most of any president. Almost nobody thinks he's done yet.

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