Feds set to protect 700,000 acres of Nevada land

Prompted by Sen. Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenators briefed on US Navy's encounters with UFOs: report Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Trump weighs in on UFOs in Stephanopoulos interview MORE (D-Nev.), the Obama administration is set to protect more than 700,000 acres of land in the Nevada desert by the end of the week. 

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Obama is set to designate an area of the Nevada landscape within the Basin and Range region as a national monument. 

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The region, which includes a large art installation called the “City,” spans the Mojave desert and the sagebrush steppe ecosystem. It’s a migratory area for some mammals and a habitat for a handful of plant and animal species. 

Reid had tried to protect the land through legislation but eventually encouraged Obama to protect the area after Democrats lost control of the Senate this year.

Reid, who has lead the push to protect Nevada desert territory during his time in office, told the Post that he thinks the desert is among “the most beautiful parts of nature.”

“To me that’s such starkness, that’s such beauty,” he said. “And there’s no place in America that represents what I think is beauty more than this Basin and Range.”

Obama’s forthcoming monument declaration has already run into preemptive opposition in Congress. Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.) has said he is against the monument declaration, worrying that it could impact Pentagon training exercises nearby or local grazing activities. 

Hardy introduced an amendment to the Interior Department appropriations bill on Tuesday night blocking federal money to carry out the declaration. The amendment is due for a vote this week. 

The Obama administration has already said it opposes the underlying funding bill because of its deep cuts to environmental programs and policy riders.