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Biden to expand 2 national monuments in California

By Ella Nilsen and Sam Fossum, CNN

(CNN) — President Joe Biden on Thursday will formally sign a proclamation expanding two national monuments in California and protecting nearly 120,000 acres of land, according to the White House.

The proclamation will add 105,919 acres of land to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and 13,696 acres to the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

“These expansions will increase access to nature, boost our outdoor economy, and honor areas of significance to Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples as we continue to safeguard our public lands for all Americans and for generations to come,” Vice President Kamala Harris, who will join Biden at the proclamation signing, said in a written statement. As a senator, Harris was part of the effort to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

The announcement is the Biden administration’s latest effort to conserve millions of acres of land and water ahead of the president’s reelection bid. San Gabriel is a mountainous wilderness area east of Los Angeles, while Berryessa is a vast area of canyons, rolling hills and native wildflowers north of Napa.

“Our national monuments hold some of our greatest natural marvels,” Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California said in a statement. “These monuments have fostered a lifelong connection to nature for millions of Californians.”

Democratic Rep. Judy Chu of California, a longtime advocate of expanding the monuments, said expanding San Gabriel would protect the source of drinking water for one-third of Los Angeles County and provide “access to nature for low-income and underserved communities.”

During the first three years of his term, Biden has conserved more than 24 million acres of public lands, most recently designating a new national monument near the Grand Canyon – the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni National Monument. Biden has also designated new monuments in Nevada and Colorado, and restored protections for national monuments in Utah that were restricted by former President Donald Trump.

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