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Obama just designated his 24th national monument, and more might be on the way

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Announcing the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Watch: Obama honors 100 years of the National Parks Service by designating a new national monument

On the eve of the National Park Service's 100th birthday, President Obama on Tuesday designated a new national monument in northern Maine, effectively placing permanent environmental protections on 84,000 acres of woods and waterways. 

The Katahdin Woods and Waters monument -- donated by Burt's Bees founder Roxanne Quimby -- is the 24th national monument President Obama has created using his authority under the Antiquities Act. 

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FILE - In this June 22, 2016, file photo, the "House on Fire" ruins are shown in Mule Canyon, near Blanding, Utah. These Anasazi ruins are found along a canyon hiking path in a dry river bed. They are one of an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites within a 1.9-million acre area of Utah's red rock country that a coalition of American Indian tribes and environmentalists want President Barack Obama to designate as a national monument to ensure protections of lands considered sacred. The race is on to win 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. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Obama's #1 on public lands creation

Using the Antiquities Act, Obama has expanded public lands more than any other president. 


Three new monuments in February

He passed that threshold in February when he created three new monuments: the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and the Castle Mountains national monuments.

Obama also made waves in June when he designed a new national monument at the historic site of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City to honor the LGBT rights movement.

Announcing the Stonewall National Monument
Obama has successfully made this part of his legancy by protecting so many acres of public lands.
Jenny Rowland

'Obama has made this part of his legacy'

"I think he has made history again by permanently protecting these significant natural resources and wildlife habitats," Jenny Rowland, who works on the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress, told Circa. 

More monuments on the way?

As the Obama administration continues to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service on August 25, some environmentalists expect that more new monuments are on the way.

Obama could, for example, designate the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, a 1.9 million acre landscape with more than more than 100,000 Native American cultural sites. He also could designate the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts -- an underwater zone off the coast of Cape Cod that has "submerged mountains higher than Mount Washington."

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FILE 0 In this Aug. 4, 2015 photo, Lucas St. Clair, the son of Burt's Bees founder Roxanne Quimby, poses on land proposed for a national park in Penobscot County, Maine. Mount Katahdin, the state's highest peak, can be seen in the background as a rainstorm passes through Baxter State Park. President Barack Obama on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 declared a new national monument in Maine on 87,000 acres donated by Quimby, fulfilling the conservationist's goal of gifting the land during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Maine in focus

For now, however, conservationists are celebrating the newly protected land in Maine. 

Protecting 'iconic wildlife'

"It's fitting to open the Maine Woods to the public as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of our National Park Service," Bobby McEnaney, the senior deputy director of the NRDC's Western Renewable Energy Project, told Circa in a statement.

"This designation permanently protects the largest undeveloped forest east of the Rocky Mountains -- along with iconic wildlife, from moose and black bears to lynx and brook trout."

Here's the White House press release declaring the new national monument.

And here's the official proclamation signed by President Obama. 

And, of course, some photos of the newly protected site.

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