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Obama to designate his largest national monument

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm •  Published: May 21, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — President Barack Obama is ready to set aside nearly a half-million acres of rugged desert terrain along the U.S.-Mexico border as a national monument.

It will be the largest swath of land to be designated by the president since he took office. It will also be the 11th time he has used his powers under the Antiquities Act to circumvent the usual congressional path for designating national parks and landmarks.

A ceremony is planned Wednesday afternoon in Washington, D.C.

Environmentalists have been fighting for a decade to protect the Organ Mountains and other areas around Las Cruces, N.M.

But sheriffs along the border, ranchers and others are voicing concerns that the designation could compromise the ability of law enforcement to tackle drug smuggling and illegal immigration in the area.