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Delaware to get national monument under Obama designation

| Friday, March 22, 2013, 9:48 p.m.
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge lies within the proposed El Rio Grande Del Norte National Conservation Area near Taos, N.M.
Reuters
Patos Island Lighthouse in Washington is among the areas to be protected under the Antiquities Act as San Juan National Monument.

WASHINGTON — President Obama will designate five new national monuments, using executive authority to protect historic or ecologically significant sites — including one in Delaware sought by Vice President Joe Biden.

The White House said Obama would make the designations Monday, using the century-old Antiquities Act to protect unique natural and historic landmarks. The sites are Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico; First State National Monument in Delaware; Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland; Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio; and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state.

The Delaware monument, commemorating the state's history and preserving about 1,100 acres near Wilmington, is the first step toward creating a national park in Delaware, the only state not included in the national park system. The project is a longtime priority for Biden, a former senator from Delaware.

“This national monument will tell the story of the essential role my state played in the history of the United States,” Biden said in a statement.

The largest site is Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico, where Obama will designate nearly 240,000 acres for protection. The site includes wildlife habitat valued by hunters and anglers; rafting, camping, and other recreation, and is prized by the region's Hispanic and tribal groups.

Advocates say the new monument in New Mexico, to be run by the U.S Bureau of Land Management, will contribute an estimated $15 million a year in economic benefits to the area.

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