WASHINGTON - President Obama on Monday will announce five new national monuments that will be added to the nation's list of protected land.
In an invocation of his executive powers, Obama will designate the First State National Monument in Delaware, the only state still lacking a national park. The president also is expected to designate a site on Maryland's Eastern Shore as a national monument to commemorate famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, a White House official said.
The three other sites Obama will name are the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio and the San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state.
Obama is using the authority he is accorded by the Antiquities Act, which presidents have exercised for more than a century to protect natural and historic sites such as the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.
But not everyone applauds the idea.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the public lands and environmental regulation subcommittee, accused Obama of designating federal lands by "executive fiat."
"The use of the Antiquities Act cuts out public participation," Bishop said in a statement. "There is a right way to designate federal lands, and there is a wrong way. Executive fiat is unquestionably the wrong way and is an abuse of executive privilege. The fact that Congress doesn't capitulate to the president's political whims on his specific timeline is hardly justification for taking unilateral action."
But proponents noted that each of the five sites had strong support from local officials as well as conservation groups.